Alumni Spotlight: Nicholas Ferrell

November 15, 2017

Nicholas Ferrell has been a part of the Mary McDowell community for over 20 years. Starting at the Mary McDowell Center for Learning in 1994 at the age of 5, Nick attended MMCL for eight years before graduating from Elementary School. At the time, MMCL had not expanded to include a Middle or Upper School, so Nick matriculated to Bay Ridge Preparatory School for both Middle and High School. Looking back, Nick credits Courtney Jimenez and Mark Doty for preparing him to integrate into a mainstream school successfully. Through his hardwork and his teachers’ support, Nick was able to maintain his status as an A-student throughout middle and high school.

During his senior year, Nick decided to stay in New York and commute to his chosen college. He gained valuable insight into the process of choosing a college. “I do think that I was correct for not fixating on one school or the idea of one school and instead prioritizing value.  . . It’s important to consider what one is looking for in conjunction with value and future goals. It is also smart to do everything within that framework to increase the odds of achieving a satisfactory outcome.” Nick went on to graduate, with Honors, from Brooklyn College in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy.

Currently, Nick is a digital writer for an immigration law firm. His articles can be found on its website which covers topics including, but not limited to: new court/administrative decisions on immigration, new policies, and news on immigration politics. Nick hopes to be published for his own fiction and political/legal philosophy pieces. As a fun anecdote, Nick notes that writing has not ALWAYS been his forte, but some special teachers helped him unlock his potential.

“My teachers for my fourth and fifth years at Mary McDowell were Lauren Sachs and Jennifer Strassler.  In addition to daily journal entries, we also had ‘writer’s workshop.’ At that time, I struggled to come up with things to write, especially when it involved the use of my imagination or writing about me beyond a list of things that I did over the weekend. For this reason, I was a difficult student in these areas for them, especially Lauren. Despite this, they displayed near infinite patience with me and always worked to be accommodating… In my sixth year, the head teacher for my class was Molly Walsh. She gave us a writing assignment to be completed over a period of weeks, and evidently I produced something of satisfactory quality for a 10-year old. Molly told me that I should show Lauren because she would be proud of me for having been able to complete a longer creative writing assignment.”

Reflecting on the MMFS community, Nick recognizes that although much has changed, many pillars of the community have also remained. “I’d like to extend my thanks to the heads of the three Mary McDowell schools:  Hannah, Courtney, and Mark. I was lucky enough to have all three. Thank you also to Earl, who was a terrific gym teacher and made gym class fun for everyone, even for those of us who were perhaps not the most athletically inclined. Deborah Edel provided my mom and I with sound counsel for eight years and Mary Donahoe; I will always remember her kindness in addition to her speech therapy sessions. Finally, for reasons I discussed earlier, I have special thanks for both Lauren and Jennifer. I don’t think two teachers could have possibly done more to go above and beyond on behalf of a single student. Lauren is a truly special person who anyone would be lucky to cross paths with once, much less to have as a teacher for two years.”

Nick’s advice for the Upper School’s current Seniors is both pragmatic and philosophical. “For specific advice on clear thinking and argumentation, study the great corpus of literature and knowledge from the last 2,500+ years. Second, clean your rooms. The state of your room is often reflective of the state of your mind.”


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