PHS distinguished alumna, Elise Burgin, had an astounding fourteen year tennis career that included being ranked 22nd in singles and 8th in doubles in the world. "It started from watching my brother playing for the varsity team and I just wanted to do everything that he did. So, I took some lessons and won my first three tournaments," said Ms. Burgin. "I had success from the beginning that inspired me to just work harder."
Ms. Burgin could not, however, play for the PHS varsity team because she was involved in so many outside tournaments, traveling to South Africa, Italy, and France during her senior year in 1980. "Vaugh Weimer, the principal back then, really understood my situation and helped me as much as possible along the way. I am forever thankful to Mr. Weimer for recognizing that," said Ms. Burgin.
Even with her tennis practice schedule before and after school everyday, Ms. Burgin remained an Honors student, eventually receiving a scholarship to Stanford University. At Stanford, Ms. Burgin was an All-American for four straight years and won two national tennis championships. "I learned that you must focus on tennis on the court and focus on school in school. It wasn't easy, but tennis really taught me how to be disciplined," explained Ms. Burgin.
She then went on to have a highly successful professional career as she reached the semi-finals in all four grand slam tennis events in doubles and mixed doubles. Ms. Burgin now works as a tennis commentator for ESPN and the SKY network in England.
Dr. Sherry Cooper
When Dr. Sherry Cooper graduated from PHS in 1968, she couldn't wait to start thinking about a career. "All of high school, I felt very self-conscious. I found the academics challenging with so many smart kids in my class. I never have since felt so little self-confidence as I did at PHS. My feelings of insecurity at PHS didn't stop me from pursuing my dreams, however. The world at large is a much easier place to conquer," said Dr. Cooper.
At Goucher College and in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh, she earned straight A's and graduated at the top of her class. Dr. Cooper also took her first economic course during her sophomore year at Goucher College, a course that would influence her future career. "In college, economics and math were my passions. Economics is a fascinating field because it combines high-powered analytics and math with left-brained intuitive analysis. It allows you to either go into academics, finance, or business. I just love it," said Dr. Cooper. "I took economics courses and sharpened my math and computer skills throughout graduate school."
Since her days at PHS, Dr. Cooper has changed drastically as a person and succeeded in her dreams of becoming an economist. In 2003, Dr. Cooper worked in Toronto, Canada as Global Economic Strategist for BMO Financial Group. She also appears as monthly co-anchor on CNN's stock-market-wrap-up show, Street Sweep, and makes monthly appearances on CNBC Wake-up Call and Bloomberg TV.
Many students spend stressful hours searching for direction in their lives. Whether by trying out electives in high school or attempting multiple majors in college, students experiment to decide what they want to do with their future. Distinguished alumnus Jeffrey Kluger had a similar experience. While attending PHS, Mr. Kluger first expressed interest in performing arts by participating in the school play Oliver. "Oliver established my junior year group of friends, friends that I still have," said Kluger. However, after Mr. Kluger graduated from PHS in 1972, he attended the University of Maryland, where he took an entirely different path than drama and earned his degree in political science. From the University of Maryland, Mr. Kluger went on to earn a law degree at the University of Baltimore Law School.
But it wasn't until lounging around his house one day that Mr. Kluger found his true desire: writing. He wrote a few witty, satirical pieces and was hooked. After law school, Mr. Kluger took his first writing job as a journalist working with Soho Weekly News, where he published a story called, "The Unsung Evita."
Though Kluger began by writing satire, he enjoyed scientific writing most. In 1981, this interest led to a job as a journalist for Science Digest, which published Mr. Kluger's first cover story, a piece on biomechanics. Eventually, Kluger went on to write several cover stories for Time magazine. In 1994, he published his first book, Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo13, based on the terrifying space voyage of Apollo 13 in 1970. Hollywood then created an Oscar-nominated movie called Apollo 13 based on Mr. Kluger's book.
Passionate and imaginative, Daniel Lipman, class of '67, has dedicated his life to creating, writing, and producing works that have redefined the entertainment industry. "When I was around 10 years old, my parents took me to a musical, and I realized that is what I wanted to do in life," said Mr. Lipman. After writing his first play while at PHS, the school granted Mr. Lipman a $300 budget and permission to use the stage. This experience later shaped the beginning of his career.
At Boston University, Mr. Lipman won a grant that allowed him to produce his first major work. During graduate school he took part in the University of Michigan's Professional Theatre Program; there, he wrote "Last Respects," winning the Shubert Fellowship and an award at the Avery Hopwood Theatre Festival.
His career as a playwright began at the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights' Conference where his play "Casanova and His Mother" premiered and was later performed at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. In 1985, Mr. Lipman co-wrote and co-produced the Emmy Award winning film "An Early Frost," a television doca-drama about the devastation of AIDS that won the Peabody Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best TV Movie. "The film really affected many people by clarifying misperceptions about the disease and really gave the television audience a compassionate view of gay people," said Mr. Lipman. Mr. With his partner Ron Cowen, Mr. Lipman later wrote and produced the movie Love She Sought and the Emmy Award winning and Golden Globe acclaimed drama series, "Sisters." When financing for the show Leap Years fell through, Showtime asked Mr. Lipman to co-produce the American version of the British hit show "Queer as Folk."
Mr. Lipman has always found writing very fulfilling. "Being a writer is probably the most rewarding part of my career; it's what keeps me going. In our daily lives, we can't control what happens to us, but being a writer allows us to create; in a sense to play God."
Alumnus Ken Mehlman, class of '84, who was honored as Distinguished Almnus in 2003, has established himself as a key figure in our nation's political scene, devoting himself to helping others in his public service career. Working daily with some of the nation's most powerful political figures, Mr. Mehlman organizes and leads major political efforts, including presidential campaigns, and provides assistance to our country's top leaders.
After graduating from PHS, Mr. Mehlman attended Franklin and Marshall College and received his law degree from Harvard Law School. His most notable career achievement was his appointment as the Campaign Manager for the Bush/Cheney 2004 election, a job that requires him to develop and execute a campaign strategy and hire and manage a team, among other duties. "There is no typical day. Sometimes I travel to different cities for political fundraising. Other days I have meetings with the President and Congress. Sometimes I'm at the office, working with polling and campaign strategy," said Mr. Mehlman.
In the past, Mr. Mehlman served as President' Bush's Director of Political Affairs, as well as the Midwest and National Field Director of the 2000 Bush/Cheney campaign. Prior to that he worked as the chief of staff for a congresswoman and the legislative director for a congressman.
Mr. Mehlman takes great pride in his work and encourages students to involve themselves in public service. "I strongly believe in public service. I urge you no matter what [political] affiliation you are, to make a real difference. Find something you love to do, work hard, and you will be successful," he said.
Create an idea. Find a playwright. Hire a composer. Develop a script and songs. Approve costume designs. These are just a few of the duties that Marc Platt, class of '75, added to his responsibilities when he produced his first Broadway musical, "Wicked," in 2003. The show, which became a smash hit, took him more than three years to complete, but Mr. Platt has always devoted plenty of time to his career since he first began to work in the entertainment industry in 1982.
After graduating from college, Mr. Platt attended New York University Law School, where he earned a degree in entertainment law. For Mr. Platt, the decision to explore a career in the industry was rooted directly in his high school experiences. "There is no question that my experience in Pikesville High's choir and drama productions as both an actor and director had a tremendous impact on my choice to pursue a career in entertainment," said Mr. Platt, who was the president of the choir and the director of the musical "Bye Bye Birdie" during his years as a PHS student.
After earning his law degree, Mr. Platt began working in business as an executive assistant for a top agent at a talent agency. Soon, he was working as President of Production for Orion Pictures, and later he served as President of Tristar Pictures and President of Production for Universal Pictures.
Undeterred by the many daily challenges of his job, Mr. Platt soon resolved to form his own company, Marc Platt Productions, and has since produced movies that include Legally Blonde, and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde, each of which grossed over $120 million worldwide. Other projects include “Honey,” a film adaptation of the novel “Empire Falls” and "MDs" for ABC Television.
Reflecting on his Pikesville High School experience, Mr. Platt says, "High school provides wonderful opportunities to explore different career avenues long before you have to make serious decisions about them. And the experiences alone are invaluable in and of themselves."
Peter A. Reiling
Peter A. Reiling's life's work has been inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr's, "Letter From the Birminhgam City Jail." Dr. King writes, "We must see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men..., and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation."
To help realize Dr. King's dream, Peter Reiling aids in the economic and social advancement of developing countries. Reiling served in 2004 as President and CEO of TechnoServe, a nonprofit organization helping entrepreneurial men and women in rural areas of the developing world to build profitable businesses. These businesses create jobs and raise incomes in poor rural communities. "My mission is to build a better world with and for people who haven't been as fortunate as I have," said Reiling."It is, as Steve Jobs put it, "to make a dent in the universe." Under Reiling's leadership, TechnoServe has built strategic alliances with numerous global corporations to provide entrepreneurs across Africa and Latin America with world-class advice as well as access to markets and capital.
Reiling also founded the Africa Leadership Initiative, a joint venture with the Aspen Institute and four African partners designed to prompt the emerging generation of African business leaders to take a more active role in the economic and social development of their countries. In 2003, Reiling was named "Outstanding Social Entrepreneur" by the Schwab foundation in Geneva, Switzerland. A member of Pikesville's class of 1975, Reiling serves on the Board of the Aspen Institute and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. "It's rare for someone to end up in a job and a career in which their work and their values are perfectly aligned," said Reiling. “I've been lucky enough to do so.”
Lauren A. Schnaper
Graduating from the first senior class at PHS isn't the only accomplishment that sets Lauren A. Schnaper, MD apart from other Pikesville Alumni. Not only does she direct GBMC's Comprehensive Breast Care Center and work as the Associate Professor of Surgery for the University of Maryland School of Medicine, but she also has won numerous awards and been named "one of the best doctors in America" by American Health Magazine.
"Most people think this field of work is just the same thing every day," said Dr. Schnaper. "But each day is a new problem. It teaches us that cancer is not just one disease, which I find incredibly interesting." One particular mentor from PHS first sparked Dr. Schnaper’s interest in the field. "I've had an interest in science ever since I took biology with a teacher named Ms. Benson," said Dr. Schanper. "It was nice to have an intelligent, female science teacher."
Dr. Schnaper specializes in breast cancer in women over 70, participates in various clinical research groups, consults with research scientists, and works one on one with patients. "Although I work with the disease every day, I don't think we will see a cure for cancer in my lifetime," said Dr. Schnaper. "It's up to your generation to do it."
With a hectic schedule and heavy workload, Dr. Schnaper still makes it a point to keep her life balanced. "Students today should not pressure themselves too much," said Dr. Schnaper. "With such a tremendous pressure to succeed these days, students should set reasonable goals and enjoy themselves. If you can't smell the roses, then the work isn't worth it."
Wendy Sherman remembers her childhood in the 1960's when the country was at war and the civil rights revolution was at its height. "My parents were my activist role models. With my mother's support and help, my father was the first realtor in Baltimore to advertise open housing," said Ms. Sherman. "Our family paid an economic price for that stand and were subject to all kinds of threats, but my parents taught me what really mattered and that one person could really make a difference."
Thanks to her parents and their inspiration, Ms. Sherman has had a distinguished career in national and international organizations. She was special advisor to both President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright on North Korea, a former counselor of the Department of State, and former president and CEO of the Fannie Mae Foundation.
Ms. Sherman currently works as a principal partner in the Albright Group LLC, founded by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright. But, Ms. Sherman will always remember her experience at Pikesville High School as part of the first class to matriculate in four years. “I think we, along with the teachers, thought we were creating the school and its identity; that it was truly ours," she said.
Pikesville High School's 1994 Distinguished Alumni recipient Burt Solomon found an immediate source of inspiration when he began his final year at PHS. His mentor was none other than first year history teacher, Paul Bolenbaugh. "Mr. Bolenbaugh was the best teacher I have ever had in all my years of high school, as well as college," said Mr. Solomon. "When I came out with Where They Ain't [Solomon's first book], he was right there at the book signing. That meant a lot to me."
Solomon's Where They Ain't, a novel about the former "glory days" of the Baltimore Orioles, was recognized by Gentlemen's Quarterly as one of the top twenty books of the millennium. Mr. Solomon also won the "Distinguished Presidential Reporter Award" in 1991 while serving as White House correspondent covering lobbying and regulatory affairs from 1985 until 2002 for the National Journal. In his second book, published in 2004, The Washington Century, Mr. Solomon featured the lives of three twentieth century Washington D.C. families.
Despite Mr. Solomon's continued success, he still remembers the true inspiring force in his life. "Mr. Bolenbaugh was the first person in my life to open up the world for me," said Mr. Solomon. "I have learned that you just have to keep at it, keep trying, to get what you want in life."
On a typical Tuesday morning, world-renowned scientist Dr. Bert Vogelstein leaves for work at the usual 4:30 a.m. Two and a half hours later, he will call his daughter and awaken her for school. Even though Dr. Vogelstein is one of the most talented oncologists in the world, it has never stopped him from being, in his daughter’s words, "the world's greatest dad."
Through Dr. Vogelstein's research on colorectal cancer, he has developed genetic tests, screening diagnostics, and targeted therapies for colon and other cancers. He has also discovered the P53 gene as the most common gene mutation among all cancers. His team is currently working on a procedure similar to a mammography to detect this gene in its early stages. Dr. Vogelstein has been acknowledged numerous times as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in the field of medicine and has been inducted into various prestigious academies. However, all this success did not come from childhood dreams, but from a last minute decision in undergraduate school to pursue medicine. "I always wanted to be a lawyer like my dad," said Dr. Vogelstein. "When I went to Pikesville High School, I got interested in science, and I was pretty good at it. And it wasn't until medical school that I finally decided what I wanted to do."
When thinking back to high school, Dr. Vogelstein never saw himself as "socially interactive." "I was a very serious kid. I would not say that I was popular in the sense that that word is usually used. I always had a few what I considered close friends," said Dr. Vogelstein. "But I certainly wasn't the belle of the ball."
In college, Dr. Vogelstein found math courses intellectually stimulating; however, he wanted to find something that he could apply to his life. "I wanted to be able to do something for people," said Dr. Vogelstein. "I thought math was great, but I felt like I was playing chess. It was a wonderful game, but I wondered whether I would ever be able to apply what I was doing to helping other people." This enticed him to pursue medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School and then later return as Assistant Professor of Oncology.
The media refers to Dr. Bert Vogelstein as, "The Man Who May Cure Cancer," "America's Hottest Scientist," and "Mr. P53." But, at home, he's just dad.
Michele Uhlfelder, class of 1987, always looked up to her older brother, Joel, who constantly played sports. Following his lead, she became a fierce competitor. This fierce competition has led Ms. Uhlfelder, class of ‘87, to the Head coach position of the Stanford University women’s lacrosse team, to positions on the USA National and World Cup lcrosse teams, and to her induction into the Baltimore chapter of the United States Lacrosse Hall of Fame. For these accomplishments, PHS recognized Ms. Uhlfelder as the Distinguished Alumni for 2004. Ms. Uhlfelder’s athletic success began here at PHS, as she was named an All-American during her senior year and led her team to the State Championship. She then continued at the University of Maryland where she played attacker for the Maryland squad from 1987-1991. She helped lead the team to National Runner-up finishes in 1990 and 1991. She was named the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Offensive Player of the Year during her senior year in 1991 and a 1st team All-American. She graduated with 110 goals and 165 total points. During Ms. Uhlfelder’s junior year in 1990 at Maryland, she made the USA National Team and continued as a member of that team every year until 2001. Being a part of the team allowed her to travel to Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Ms. Uhlfelder will never forget her years at PHS, where she was a very active student. In addition to varsity lacrosse, Ms. Uhlfelder played varsity volleyball and varisty basketball each season and was also the sports editor of The Pipeline. “Your whole life you work hard and set yourself up for experiences and opportunities to find out the world is a bigger place. But the more and more you do to find out that it is bigger, you realize that everyone is human and the world is actually a smaller place,” she said. ~ Ben Offit
Judge Judy Weitzman
Judge Weitzman, Chair of both the Drug Court Commission and the Maryland State Bar Association’s Committee on Criminal Law and Practice, has focused her legal career on public policy enforcement and has worked to eradicate the drug epidemic in the Baltimore area. At the heart of her rulings, she encourages drug users to turn their lives around. "There is an attitude of helplessness that I see sometimes in court from folks who abdicate their personal responsiblility to others," said Judge Weitzman. "I like to empower people to face their problems and have alternate solutions to their problems." In 2002, Judge Weitzman received the Distinguished Service Award for Special Achievement in Law-Related Education, awarded by the Maryland Bar Association and Citizenship Law-Related Education Program for the Schools of Maryland.
After graduating from the University of Maryland, Judge Weitzman attended the University of Baltimore School of Law, and later became a member of the Maryland State Bar. Judge Weitzman began to make her mark on legal issues by practicing law in Mexico and then in Baltimore City, mostly focusing on public service work. "I encourage everyone to get as many experiences as they can," said Judge Weitzman. "The most interesting people I've met have had many experiences through travel, culture, thinking and just living life. Experiences make people open to learning and developing rather than being limited and not learning new things."
Judge Weitzman has been the Assistant State's Attorney, member of the Public School Health Advisory Board, member of the governor's Executive Advisory Council Examing Dangerous Substance Abuse, and member of the Governor's Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission. But, it all began at Pikesville High School. "During high school, I never envisioned myself as a success," said Judge Wetizman. "But I started to realize at the end of my junior year that my impression of myself was different than others'. This shaped my self-confidence and my recognition that I could do more, which led me into the law field."
Benny Warchawski, class of 1993, received the 2002 distinguished Alumni Award in honor of his accomplishments in operatic performance. Since graduating from Hartt School of Music and the University of Maryland, Mr. Warchawski has traveled the world, captivating audiences in productions such as Lucia di Lammermoor, La Boheme, and Rigoletto. "The story that many people want to believe is that I was born with this gift from God," said Mr. Warchawski, "while the truth is that I feel my career took off because I learned the tools I needed to become one of the best in my field at this time and because I believe in those tools and my ability to manage them."
In high School, Mr. Warchawski played on the baseball team, football team, and became heavily involved in local and statewide levels of student government. He first discovered a love for singing as a sophomore when Dr. Richard A. Disharoon, Music Department chair, convinced him to audition for the school musical, Guys and Dolls. "Without any training at all, he was vocalizing to the highest notes tenors have to sing, and I said, ‘We have to investigate this,’" said Dr. Disharoon.
In 2002, Mr. Warschawski made his New York City Opera debut as Alfredo in Verdi's La Traviata. He has also participated in cantorial concerts in Israel and has served as Cantor at the prestigious B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, Florida. "In the future, I hope to keep singing, growing, learning, and most importantly, loving life!" said Mr. Warschawski. "This is just the beginning." He is very grateful to Dr. Disharoon, Casper Vecchione, Peter Randsman, his parents, and his wife for their love and support.