Natalie Floeh ‘02 - September 2021 Alumna of the Month

When did you start at Viz? Do you know why your parents chose to send you to Viz?
I started at Viz in the 3rd grade.

Ultimately, my family chose Viz because of my younger sister, Jessica Floeh ’03. She has Type 1 Diabetes, and in 1992, it was challenging to find a school willing to accommodate a child with “invisible” medical needs. The small classroom sizes and watchful, caring teachers at Viz were truly unique compared to the other schools in the area. It was a great environment for both of us from the very beginning!
Where did you go to college after Viz, and why did you choose that school?
Loyola University Chicago, and I loved it! I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life when I was looking at colleges, but knew I wanted to be in a big city near St. Louis – so Chicago was always on my mind. I visited several schools in the city, but just knew that Loyola would be my new home as soon as I stepped on campus. They also have a campus in Rome, Italy, which was a huge draw and afforded me the opportunity to study abroad while in college!
What is one of your favorite Viz traditions or experiences and why?
I have such fond memories of the class trips that were sponsored by Viz. One that stands out was a trip to Memphis to visit the Civil Rights Museum. Our freshman Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Susan Scarpinato, led the trip, and it was a perfect mix of fun activities (we got to visit Lambert’s – home of the “throwed rolls” – on our way there!) and those that forced my young mind to acknowledge the injustices present in our country. I am eternally grateful to Viz for creating opportunities for us to find joy, learn, and be challenged in these ways.

This month’s virtue is Simplicity. Can you reflect on what you learned about Simplicity at Viz and how that impacts how you embody this virtue in our daily life as an adult?
Although I didn’t think about it at the time, the teachers, sisters, and administrators at Viz were constantly modeling simple, seemingly small, things that make people feel seen & valued. I think about our Assistant Principal at the time, Mrs. Barb McMullin, who knew every single student’s name (and their parents’ names!), and remembered facts about them. Even as an alumna, both my mom and I have run into her from time to time, and she always remembers us! Honestly, simple efforts like that really matter. Making an effort to pronounce a name correctly, or to remember a small fact about someone, can go a long way in building relationships and trust in your community. I carry that with me to this day.

Are there any significant skills that you learned that you can attribute to your time at Viz?
Thanks to two of my English teachers in particular, Mrs. Julie Ivers & Dr. Laura McCord, I came out of high school with strong critical thinking, communication, and writing skills. I didn’t realize just how much I would learn from reading/analyzing good literature, learning to take constructive (sometimes brutal!) feedback on my writing, and receiving the kind of care and support they provided through all of it. I was not only prepared for college, but these skills continue to serve me in my career and my personal life.

What is something you are most proud of?
I’m very proud of the career I’ve built working in higher education and with college students. College is an exciting and overwhelming time of life, and as an academic advisor, I truly love helping students achieve their academic and personal goals. There are few things more gratifying than watching a student grow from a shy freshman to a confident senior, and celebrating with them as they walk across the stage at graduation.
What is something you hope to accomplish in the future?
Despite earlier evidence to the contrary, I recently learned that I can keep some plants/flowers alive if I really try, so now I want to really improve my gardening skills! I finally have my own garden space to practice on, too, so I look forward to finding my stride with that in the coming years.
If you could share one piece of advice with Viz students, what would it be?
Trust yourself. There are so many (often well-intentioned) people and social influences that will compel you to take certain paths in life, but only you know what is in your heart. It is so important to stay centered and tuned-in to what calls to you. This can be scary, especially if you don’t know, or can’t articulate, where it will lead. But, that’s where the trust comes in – and believe me, Viz has prepared you to be brave through this process!
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