Skip To Main Content

Featured Alumnae

Katie Andresen

Castilleja Alumna 
Class of 2008

If you ask Katie Andresen '08, the sixth "C" would most certainly be Community. It's her job title, yes, but it's also how she approaches every aspect of her life, whether it's the focus of her research, her volunteer work with Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, or the intentional way she connects with people.

Looking back, it's easy to see how community has always been at the heart of Katie's academic  interests, though it wasn't always clear in the moment. With a life-long interest in world events, Katie says, "I loved taking Russian History with Mrs. McKeeHA and every history of 'not America' I could find." She continued to delve into these topics while studying politics, Italian, and Arabic as an undergraduate student at Princeton, then in her job after graduation at the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco. From there, she moved abroad to earn a master's degree in dispute and conflict resolution at SOAS University of London. Katie says, "I was curious about how foreign policy is made and how agreements are made. To me, conflict resolution was interesting, and my research topics as an undergrad included violent elections and peace processes, and how to mitigate violence." It was through her studies in conflict resolution, Katie says, that she was able to identify the tools and skills needed to facilitate belonging, deepen engagement, and create a harmonious community.

Katie Andresen Castilleja Alumna

Aurora Real de Asua

Castilleja Alumna 
Class of 2012

Recently, Aurora Real de Asua '12 was listed as one of the Hot New Faces of Chicago Theatre in the Chicago Tribune. It's an exciting milestone for the actor / writer / director who has been dreaming of a career in the arts since she was four years old.

It all started when Aurora begged her parents to let her put on a play for her fifth birthday. Aurora shares, "They built a makeshift wooden stage in Rinconada Park and helped me adapt Cinderella into a two-page script that my fellow four-year-olds could pronounce. I invited all of my friends, and we spent two hours performing the ten-minute play over and over and over, constantly switching parts and costumes. My favorite character was (and is) Gus, the little fat mouse, and I refused to play any other character. During that day I remember thinking: 'Oh my God, I'm a mouse! I could be a mouse as a job! I could be a mouse for life!' It was a eureka moment, and I never really looked back. It was the infamous call of the mouse, and I had to respond." 

Joyce Adams Hanna-Smith

Castilleja Alumna 
Class of 1952

Long before running was in vogue, Joyce Adams Hanna-Smith '52 was making it fashionable. Joyce laughs as she recalls, "It was before the fitness boom. People would stop me when I was running to ask if I was okay. They weren't used to seeing women run." While "athleisure" is a popular trend now, there weren't even running clothes for women when Joyce started in the 1960s. Joyce didn't let this stop her–she ran in a tennis dress, and she ran fast. Joyce was nationally ranked 26th for the marathon in her 40s and ran the New York City Marathon for her 60th birthday. She celebrated her 65th birthday by competing in the Pikes Peak Ascent, a 13.2-mile race that finishes at 14,000 ft. summit. She finished first in her age group.

Leslie Cardozo Stafford

Castilleja Alumna 
Class of 1993

When Leslie Cardozo Stafford '93 was presented with the Distinguished Alumna Award at her Castilleja 25th Reunion last fall, there was much to celebrate about how this "professional volunteer" embodies the 5Cs in her community. Leslie is President of the Special Education PTA of Redwood City and a tireless advocate for parents of children with special needs. She volunteers with several other educational organizations and joined the Superintendent's Advisory Council last year. Next month, Leslie will become Chair of the Parent Advisory Board to the Stanford Autism Center, where she has facilitated a monthly parent support group and serves as a parent advisor for a program supporting parents of newly diagnosed autistic children. To date, the Early Support Program has provided help with resource coordination and parent education to over 2,000 families!

Suelyn Yu

Castilleja Alumna 
Class of 2006

Suelyn creates paintings that advance her passion for combating climate change. In her series "Still Burning," she captures the moments before, during and after the California wildfires. She portrays billowing flames over open highways and the remnants of towns ravaged by fires. Another series called "Natural Change" was inspired by NASA satellite imagery. Suelyn found the satellite images to be beautiful source material, providing a "macro view of what's going on" and "perspective we don't have on a day-to-day basis." Suelyn's art will be featured in the Anita Seipp Gallery at Castilleja in April.

Dr. Shira Lipton

Castilleja Alumna 
Class of 1997
Board Certified Dermatologist

Shira developed a fascination with skin when she was a little girl, and by the age of 10, already knew she wanted to pursue a career in dermatology. She credits Castilleja with instilling in her both the confidence to pursue her dream, and the importance of giving back. “From a very early age, Castilleja encouraged us to think about service, and that’s where my commitment to our community began.” Today, she keeps Palo Altans healthy as a doctor and can be found offering free skin checks to underserved patients in the community.

Dr. Shanti Perkins

Castilleja Alumna 
Class of 1990
Internal Medicine

While a student at Castilleja, Shanti developed a passion for science along with a desire to connect with others and give back to her community. She knew that a career in internal medicine would allow her to pursue these passions while building long-term relationships with patients. When she’s not practicing medicine, she volunteers with Girls to Women, a non-profit that provides after-school and summer youth development programming to underserved girls in East Palo Alto, Shanti’s hometown.

Julia Ishiyama

Castilleja Alumna
Class of 2009
Third Year Law Student at Stanford Law School

While a student at Castilleja, Julia spent time volunteering at Walter Hayes Elementary School and later as a member of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s Student Advisory Board, where she helped compile policy recommendations for the Congresswoman. As a current student at Stanford Law School, she is focusing on issues of gender equity – a passion she credits to Castilleja. “Seven years of all-girls education gave me an incredible appreciation for how rare and wonderful it is to have strong female voices in every classroom, female leads in every play, and women running (student) government.”