Stephanie Soden Ward '98
What year did you graduate from St. George’s?
Where did you attend college?
I spent a few years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, then finished my BFA at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
What did you study in college?
Where do you live and what is your profession?
I recently moved back to Memphis, but was previously in Portland, OR for 7 years. I work as a Design Director at Wieden+Kennedy, which is the largest independent advertising agency in the world. Our agency is responsible for iconic campaigns such as Nike's "Just Do It," and memorable characters like the Old Spice man and Colonel Sanders. As a Design Director, I lead teams of talented people to create artwork and generate ideas to build these campaigns.
How did St. George’s prepare you for college, career, and life?
Which teacher had the greatest impact on you and why?
I appreciate that St. George's placed such a high value on art, creativity and outside-the-box thinking. We were encoruaged to cultivate our communication skills as much as our academic studies. Experiences like giving a 6th grade speech to the entire school and going on adventurous field trips taught me to be brave, and how to navigate situations with mindfulness and empathy.
Too many to count! But Anne McWaters was my 5th grade teacher, then she moved to 6th grade, so I had her for 2 years. She was infinitely patient with this right-brained art kid that sometimes doodled more than she studied. I really appreciate her kindness and humor.
What is your favorite St. George’s memory?
My favorite memory is the 5th grade trip to Cumberland Caverns. Back then, you brought a sleeping bag and spent the night in the cave with your classmates. We did a cave crawl in parts of the cave where you literally on your belly wearing nee and elbow pads shimmying through tight spaces. My Dad was a chaperone and managed to videotape the whole thing like a trooper (this was in the 90's, so image a big brick-sized camera). But the best part was having this incredible shared experience with our classmates. We are all a little scared, but cheered each other on and held flashlights while we scaled ladders in the darkness. For years, people didn't believe me when I told them this was a standard grade school field trip. I loved it.
Do you still stay connected to any of your St. George's classmates?
I met my 3 best friends in St. George's PK! We performed in the talent show together and still know the dance. We've been close ever since and have even been in each other's weddings. Now some of their kids are the age we all were when we met. It kind of blows my mind!
What advice would you give to St. George’s students or young alumni today?
Have fun. Be a kid. Be a teenager. Do the scary thing you didn't think you were capable of doing. Take the unexpected path. Try to listen in class and don't spend the whole time drawing....or do. Because the best lessons you get from St. George's aren't in the textbooks, anyway.