In Fords in Four, we ask an alumnus four questions; he shares insights and stories. In this blog post, Garrett Snider '14, founder of the Childhood Resilience Foundation, shares his memories and lessons from Haverford, as well as how his time at the School influenced the creation of his foundation.
Can you recount a memorable Haverford experience?
I'll never forget how we came together when Kip Taviano (a member of the Class of 2013) passed away. I didn't know him well, but I was moved by how loving and committed the faculty was to those who were affected. To me, the School always seemed diligent in its efforts to maintain a sense of cohesion, and I saw those efforts pay off. Mrs. Heed, who was my advisor, convened the Upper School and created a meaningful venue for students and faculty to share in their grief. During the assembly, Dr. Ehrhart gave a speech that was so powerful I could probably still recite it verbatim. I've carried his message that day into many experiences since. During a traumatic time, the School was a port in the storm for the whole community, and I was proud to be part of that. It's not hard to appreciate the privilege of getting to attend a school like Haverford, but that was a moment in time which showed me how the community added so much to the quality of the education I was receiving.
What inspired you to create your own foundation? How has the mission of your foundation evolved over time?
I created my own foundation because I had been radicalized by the volunteer experiences I had during high school. I couldn't believe I lived in a world in which child abusers often rely on the trust of the parents of their victims in order to commit their atrocities. Sexual abuse is a global pandemic, and that won't change until everyone has the language to discuss it in real terms. When it came to speaking freely or addressing taboos, I was born with a trait that made me an unguided missile. When young people are taught that they need permission to uphold their boundaries, and when they're made to feel awkward when discussing their bodies, they're more susceptible to abuse. Finding my cause, and dedicating myself to it, gave purpose to my most basic qualities, and empowered me to become an advocate. Doing so was the most rewarding decision of my life. I have Haverford to thank for embracing my extracurricular interests, because they became my career. The organization's mission has evolved so much since our inception. We're constantly having to pivot and adjust our approach to best suit how people are communicating with each other. It's our job to project those changes so that we're prepared to combat the new risks they bring. I believe that if you can find ways to utilize the skills that come to you most naturally, success will follow.
I transferred to Haverford for high school, and being there really did help to prepare me for life in the working world. The way we carry ourselves directly correlates to how we're received by others, and Haverford reinforced that message in ways that have stayed with me.
What lessons did you learn at Haverford that have stayed with you, still?
My life today is the result of how I spent my time in high school. Mrs. Kirk and Ms. Snyder supported me throughout so much research I did during free time in the library. I learned how to write from Ms. Smedley, who had taught another member of my family at Baldwin. The disciplines she imparted were directly applicable to every aspect of professional life. I transferred to Haverford for high school, and being there really did help to prepare me for life in the working world. The way we carry ourselves directly correlates to how we're received by others, and Haverford reinforced that message in ways that have stayed with me.
How do you think current students can/should make the most of their Haverford education?
I think that when we're kids, we picture adulthood as some magic threshold through which we get catapulted once we're done being young. In reality, all we're doing is growing older, so it really is our obligation to take active measures to nurture and grow the parts of ourselves that we value and emulate in others. This is why living within a community and looking up to role models is so essential to building a life. You're never too young or too old to change your life, so create a vision, and fashion your reality to reflect what you see in your mind. I also think it's important to avoid seeing a disconnect between who you are right now and who you're going to be in 10 years. Values erode subtly and over time, and youth is no excuse to delay committing yourself to good habits and morals. Every move we make now is an investment in our futures, so make investments you'll be proud of down the road, and savor every minute in this caring, rarified environment in the meantime.
Photo: Garrett Snider '14 (top row, center) with his siblings, including Jeffrey Kaiser '08 and Jonathan Kaiser '06, on the day of his commencement.