Meet Princeton Montessori School alum Xan Nowakowski, PhD, MPH! Xan attended Princeton Montessori School in the 1990s. Let’s hear more about what they’ve been up to…
What are you doing right now?
Currently, I am an Assistant professor of both Geriatrics and Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine at Florida State University College of Medicine. All of my work here focuses on health equity in aging with chronic disease. I spend a lot of my time evaluating different public health programs that serve intersectionality marginalized people. Teaching at a medical school with a strong social justice mission feels as exciting now as it did when I first became part of FSU COM over a decade ago.
How did your PMONTS education prepare you for academic success?
My education at PMONTS prepared me to be an activist and discover how to make a difference. All that time I spent in the library reading stories about people from all around the world finding ways to rise up for justice made an impression on me. PMONTS also nurtured my passion for self-directed learning—including the will to go against the grain and try creative approaches to gathering and analyzing data.
How did PMONTS contribute to the person you are today?
PMONTS really sharpened my appreciation for my multiethnic biography early on. I learned that being different from others around me could be a wonderful thing because of the unique insights it affords. I also learned how to be a good citizen of a shared community, which meant making time for self-reflection and considering the impact of my actions as well as the intent behind them. My time at PMONTS taught me a lot about practicing compassion, both for others and for myself, and it brought out the “helper” aspects of my personality. I think I became a teacher long before I ever became a university faculty member!
What do PMonts faculty remember about Xan?
Michelle Morrison, HOS: I had the privilege of teaching Xan as an Upper Elementary student at PMONTS. It was in my first decade of teaching at PMONTS and Xan made a significant impression on me as a Montessori student, so full of curiosity, highly responsive to our culture of kindness and peaceful conflict resolution, and passionate about learning. I’m not surprised Xan chose a career in education and has become an advocate for underserved communities. I’m thrilled the many attributes and life-skills Montessori focuses on developing are exhibited by so many of our graduates!
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