Rene Pierpont is a current LAJF Board member, as well as acting Board Secretary and Chair of the Selection Policy Committee. She was a Legacy camper in 1995 and 1996. Her grandparents are Libby and Mandy Mascia. She returned to Camp in 2000 as a staff member at Clinton, a position she held until 2003.
Rene completed her undergraduate degree at Georgetown University. She worked with the Brain and Language Lab, where she developed an interest in studying children with language disorders and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. Her graduate degree in Psychology and postdoctoral degree came from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Recently, Rene joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in the area of pediatric neuropsychology. In addition, she is married and has two young children, Nina, 4 years and Elijah, 11 months.
Rene continues to be interested in Selection Policy because she would love to see our process of increasing the effectiveness and diversity of campers succeed. She attended the camper Selection in Minnesota this year and shared the following thoughts:
Every year when conducting interviews for Camper Selection I am so re-energized! While having fascinating conversations with the potential future campers from Minnesota, I am reminded of the essential role that our alumni have to play in enabling successive generations of change-makers develop their talents and voices through the Rising Sun experience. Selection is almost like a "Circle of Life" phenomenon within our community. Those of us who experienced something worthy of sharing while we were at Rising Sun eagerly await passing along this gift to a new set of fresh-faced young leaders.
We caught up with Rene to ask her about her current pursuits, as well as how Camp Rising Sun impacted her:
1) What do you think is the biggest lesson or takeaway you learned from
I've learned that our character is defined not by how much we wish for something, but by how much we are willing to commit, struggle and sacrifice for that thing. This lesson applies to me in my own life every day... There are certainly always trade-offs in my career, in my role of motherhood, in my activities as a CRS Board member. All of these things present challenges-- and I continually have to choose to apply myself wholeheartedly to those challenges every day.
Incidentally, this lesson about commitment is also really relevant to the current challenges facing the CRS community as we try to determine solutions that will ensure a sustainable future for our program. Achieving sustainability will require a serious collective effort- every one of us will need to share our precious time, to open our minds and wallets, to roll up our sleeves, to work through tough conversations and beyond hurt feelings, and to participate in tasks that are sometimes very, very challenging. I believe that our alumni will be able to do this to keep the mission of Rising Sun alive.
2) Can you tell us more about the work you do with your organization?
I am a pediatric neuropsychologist in a busy academic medical center. I conduct evaluations of children with complex medical, neurodevelopmental and mental health needs which inform their educational and treatment plans. I love working in pediatrics, and of course I have a special fondness for working with teenagers! Interestingly, many of the skills that I learned from being a Counselor working with exceptional teens at Rising Sun still apply today in my work with children who are struggling. Each type of person has their own developmental needs. To meet those needs we must be willing to listen and find ways to support them to develop into their best selves.
3) If you had one piece of advice to offer young men and women who are
still in high school, college, or the early stages of their career, what
would it be?
If you aren't making mistakes, you aren't challenging yourself enough. It's okay to be wrong sometimes-- in fact, people will respond better to you if you are humble, acknowledge that you messed up, and commit to working to improve it the next time. Also, you will probably learn the most from listening to those who have a different perspective than you.