Alumni Spotlight - Deirdre Marie Jones

 "I feel that because of Abintra, I have had a genuine passion and curiosity for learning and reflection instilled within me."
--Deirdre Jones, Human Rights and Social Justice Advocate

Deirdre in France
Deirdre graduated from Abintra in 2005 and attended high school at the University School of Nashville. She went on to attend the University of Michigan, and has just finished her last year of college through a Vanderbilt study abroad program in France. While transitioning from college life to the working world, Deirdre is focusing on shaping her long-term goal of working for an international human rights organization. Read on to learn Deirdre's story!

Abintra: Tell us a little about yourself.
Deirdre: I have just moved to Marseille to continue an internship I started through the Vanderbilt study abroad program with an organization called "L'Association des Travailleurs Maghrébins de France," an organization for social justice and development for North African immigrants in France. I currently work with both a women's group and a children's group that helps nourish their development and integration into French society. This is also the first year of my life that I can remember not swimming competitively! I swim for the joy of it, my last swim was in a wetsuit along a fjord in Marseille, the water was so clear that I followed some fish darting around under the water! I also absolutely love ballet, and with swimming less have re-followed this passion by taking Russian Vaganova ballet classes. I speak French all day long now, my English has developed some French pronunciation and vocabulary to it, and I even forget English words sometimes that I know in French!

Deirdre in her Early Childhood years
Abintra: How do you think your time at Abintra influenced your future experiences?
Deirdre: When it comes to learning or completing a task, I find that I have such a different approach and philosophy compared to my other classmates. I feel that because of Abintra, I have had a genuine passion and curiosity for learning and reflection instilled within me. My empathy and respect for other human beings, for animals, and for nature was thoughtfully embedded within me from my time at Abintra. As I have come to grow up into this world, I have realized how instinctively I accept the differences of another person because we were forced to learn how to be respectful to each and every classmate and member of the Abintra community. Abintra taught me to see the beauty and value of every human being, something incredibly dear and precious to me as I battle with the injustice/racism/discrimination that is around me. And to top it off, as a swimmer I was often elected for team leadership roles because of my ability to lead by "example"- which hearkens directly back to Abintra teaching us how to be 'role models' for others!

Abintra: What is your favorite Abintra memory?
Deirdre: Without doubt the 'Kitty Club.' Using the utmost creativity and ingenuity, a handful of girls at Abintra created a little club with our headquarters underneath the branches of a small pine tree on our beautiful playground. The Kitty Club endured throughout almost my entire time at Abintra (starting at age 5!). Each girl made their own Kitty character, mine was an orange and gold striped tabby named Sundrop. The club was led diligently and respectfully by 'Lilybug' (aka Sophie Diehl). We played and acted like curious little kitties all day long, even throwing some of the yarn from the arts and crafts box around the meeting rug and making mewing noises in our classroom! We made illustrated story books recounting our adventures, even had monthly newsletters with kitty quizzes and illustrations drawn by hand with the Diehl house as the official printing press. We developed a place for our imaginations, creativity, and more than anything for friendship.

Abintra: If you could give one piece of advice to a current Abintra student, what would it be?
Deirdre: Don't be scared of not being able to succeed or fit in the world 'outside' of Abintra. Abintra has helped you to develop an invaluable curiosity and consideration for the world around you, these are special gifts that will constantly shape your life and they are worth more than you could know!