Apr 6, 2022
— updated Apr 7, 2022
Finding Your Voice
A conversation with former Trustee Josie Sentner ’62
Former Trustees Gina Breene Wickwire ’67 and Josie Sentner ’62 recently caught up via Zoom, with Josie sharing the story of her journey to MHS, favorite memories as a student, and her experiences after Miss Hall’s, including serving on the Board of Trustees from 1993 to 2001.
Here are excerpts from their conversation, and you can watch the entire conversation below!
Tell me about your background and journey to finding Miss Hall’s.
I came as a freshman from a small town outside of Pittsburgh. It was always assumed in my family that I would attend Miss Hall’s because my first cousin, Jessie Quick ’63, was coming and we were like sisters. It was important to my parents that I did go to boarding school, and I went to see Miss Hall’s and I loved it.
“It’s so important for so many girls to have a single-sex education. You really learn your own voice. First of all, that you even have a voice, and that when you use it, someone is going to listen to you.”
What are your favorite memories from your time as a student?
These were such pivotal times in our lives, so there are lots of memories! It was such an incredible time, and it was over 60 years ago. Growing up, I had not traveled much, and we were not exposed to the world, so going to Miss Hall’s, where there were girls from all over the country who came from very different backgrounds, was a real eye opener for me. We lived our whole lives in that one building, and so we built a real camaraderie and strong friendships with the sense that we were all in this together.
My strongest memories are of my friends, mostly, but also the winter art pageant. We painted the Italian Masters on these massive canvases, and the whole school worked on it together. It was so rewarding to see it complete, and the teamwork involved served me well throughout my life — learning how to collaborate with others.
Another thing that I learned at Miss Hall’s that served me well was the idea of networking. You build these friendships, and they become your world. It was quite a wonderful experience.
From the Archives ... MHS Pageants
Classic scenes from the Archives of legendary Miss Hall’s Christmas Pageants, major undertakings overseen by beloved art teacher Elizabeth Gatchell Klein and staged by students each year just before Winter Break. Each production featured elaborate, hand-painted flats, girl-made renditions of Renaissance masterpieces by artists like Giotto and Fra Angelico, along with accompanying music.
Why do you value single-sex education?
It’s so important for so many girls to have a single-sex education. You really learn your own voice. First of all, that you even have a voice, and that when you use it, someone is going to listen to you. That was very important. And, again, the networking. The women’s networks that I have been involved with both personally and professionally have been so valuable. And, there’s a way you learn that at Miss Hall’s — to collaborate with girls. I think women are more collaborative in general, but there’s a way that just becomes how you operate in the world.
As a Board member, did you learn anything new about yourself?
I learned that I did have something to contribute; not just my job and my family, but I did have something else to contribute and I could help. It was very confidence-building. And, I had opinions, and at that time (not now), I was one of the few people with financial knowledge, and so I realized I had a skill I could contribute. And, that as an outspoken part of that group, we could affect change. I had never seen that before so personally.
As you reflect on your career, what advice would you have for MHS students today? Number one, be aware. Check things out. Don’t assume you know. And, you do have a voice. Don’t be afraid to use it. Use it wisely, check it out before you use it. And, you have a choice. Looking back, I don’t think I realized how many choices I had …. And, I think women have the capacity to have enormous confidence to express it very confidently, and don’t be afraid of that. You can effect change. You can make a difference. I learned this very late in life: network, network, network. Once those women build networks, they are never broken. They last a lifetime.