Suffield’s College Counseling and Alumni & Development Offices hosted the fourth college-to-career virtual discussion of the year on January 31. The program invites alums to speak with interested students about their careers, college major choices, and experiences at Suffield. As part of the junior-year Leadership Program curriculum, the goal is to expose current students to life beyond Suffield and provide guidance from alumni professionals working in various fields.
Abby Blyler graduated from Suffield Academy in 2015. As an avid soccer player and life-long athlete, Abby was recruited to play on the women’s soccer team at Middlebury College, where she spent four years as a student-athlete and eventually captained the team. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Middlebury in February 2020 with a major in psychology and minor in environmental studies. Abby now manages and conducts research on topics related to well-being, agency, happiness, talent, and expertise at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center under the mentorship of Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Angela Duckworth. Abby’s work aims to unite the rigorous scientific exploration of human behavior and positive psychology that harnesses the power of individual and collective mindsets to catalyze effective social change. Outside of academia, Abby has worked for mission-driven organizations including the Character Collaborative (directed by former Suffield Head of School, David Holmes), the Environmental Defense Fund, and Trillium Asset Management.
In her conversation Abby spoke about the most challenging part of transitioning from Suffield to college, citing the difference between the structured high school schedule versus the free time at college. She said, “It’s a difficult thing to learn how to manage your time on your own without someone telling you ‘you have to be here at this time.’ There is way more autonomy [in college] and I think you have to put in your own version of what Suffield provides for you that works for you.” She also spoke about the patterns she sees in people who are successful at what they do, saying, “Practice is great, but it is really the kind of practice you are doing. A lot of what the research is saying is how much of the practice is deliberate practice...it does come down to the number of hours you put in and the quality of those hours.” When speaking about participating in research, Abby talked about what she likes and finds challenging about the research process, saying, “I like asking questions and then getting the chance to empirically derive answers. What I didn’t like was the model we have of clinical psychology. It didn’t feel like the space where potentially we could be helping people the most.” She ended with the advice: “Try your best not to think about living your life as a means to an end.”
Juniors preparing for the college application process are heavily supported by Suffield’s college counselors and alumni mentors. While their college choice is an important decision in their lives, the mentoring sessions provide insight into many unanswered questions. It is made very clear that communication is a key to success and there is more than one way to accomplish a rewarding future.