Voices of Dalton

Voices of Dalton - Alumni

Hear from our alumni...

To truly understand Dalton, take some time to listen to a few former students reflect on their experiences at the school. These accomplished alumnae share how their time at Dalton ignited their passions and opened up a world of possibilities for them.

Visit Dalton's YouTube channel to view these videos with closed captions.

Alexander Marson, Md, PhD

Alex attended Dalton from nursery school (which no longer exists) through High School. He speaks of the freedom and encouragement he experienced from the youngest age to ask questions, have time to think deeply and explore and contribute new knowledge with experts who taught you how to think on your own. "This was a real privilege for a young child to have. The answers weren't always given, but the facts were there to be interrogated and discovered. We were taught how deeply we could push ourselves to this end." In Alex's current career as a scientist, he continues searching for what is unknown. His laboratory studies immune system cells and ways to treat a range of human diseases. In thinking of The Dalton Song, Alex speaks of the encouragement he received at Dalton, to "go forth unafraid" to be entrusted to play a role in exploring the world and the need to use this knowledge for human good. "I learned these lessons at Dalton, and they come back to me at unexpected moments in my life." Alex graduated from Dalton and Harvard University, receiving an AB, MD, PhD, and a PhD in Biology from MIT.

Alex Lehman

Even in her earliest years at the First Program, Alex remembers being excited and empowered by the creativity in the curriculum and being able to grapple with important issues facing the real world and then translate them into fun and exciting projects. "We learned how to grow ideas and be proactively equipped with the skills and tools to succeed–to frame ideas, listen, and extrapolate ideas." This approach to learning continued through Middle School. It evolved into independent research projects. During Labs (Alex's favorite element of The Dalton Plan), Alex was encouraged and supported by her teachers to combine her passions for dance and history. She choreographed the US Constitution and, with her interests in gender and issues of genocide, created a new curriculum on the topics. Alex took a gap year after graduating from Dalton, working in Washington D.C. formulating policy and also in Indonesia pursuing her passions for politics, gender studies, and religion interviewing women from all walks of life. Alex is currently a student at Brown University.

Gabe Panek, JD

Gabe began his Dalton journey in kindergarten. From his earliest days at the First Program, he states, "Dalton gave me a sense of freedom to seek out different experiences with faculty and to develop creatively." Whether composing (and singing) a song about medieval times in Middle School, creating his own political radio show in High School, or getting Dalton outside into the larger New York City neighborhood, "Dalton taught us to be creative and that we're part of something bigger than ourselves. It encouraged each of us to be the best we could be and the need to think about building a better New York." Dalton's commitment to justice and social change influenced Gabe to see himself exploring politics as he raises his family in the city he loved to explore as a child. Gabe graduated from Dalton and received his AB from Yale University.

Ashley LaLonde

Ashley transferred from Hunter College Elementary School in Middle School. Once at Dalton, she found fulfillment not only in its rigorous academic program but also in the depth and breadth of the many visual and performing arts opportunities that she believes continue to serve her well in her current career as an actor. Ashley speaks of Dalton giving her a unique humble curiosity accomplished within a highly diverse community. "Dalton encouraged me to be my creative self, to be confident, and to be who I was–to think culturally and dream of a society that could be–to think globally and act locally." Ashley graduated from Dalton and received her AB from Harvard University.

David Mandelbaum

David arrived at Dalton from Hunter Elementary School in the Middle School. "It was clear from the start that every teacher had a passion for their subject and each student. It was infectious." He maintains that while Dalton's academic rigor was evident, so was the supportiveness from faculty in classes and in "Lab." David credits Dalton for instilling him with curiosity and confidence to tackle new challenges even when it was unclear how to achieve the goals. After graduation from Yale University, David's desire to intersect his passions for technology and engineering led him to work for an exciting new company that delivers critical medical supplies via drones to hard-to-reach areas in Africa and other continents. David received his AB from Yale University.

Jamaal Spence

When Jamaal came to Dalton in 9th grade from George Jackson Academy, Lab was a foreign concept to him. But having regularly scheduled access to teachers was part of why he chose Dalton over other high schools. "Being able to say, 'Oh, I am really curious about this, but I'm not sure where to start. Can you help me?'...You have that emphasis on reaching out to your teachers." Jamaal also credits Dalton with leading him to discover poetry. "It showed me that poetry was a way to see the world." He cherishes the time he spent talking with his English teacher about his writing and even co-founded a poetry club at school. Dalton's focus on interdisciplinary learning also led to Jamaal's interest in neuroscience which he is currently studying as a student at UPenn. "If it wasn't for Dalton having that focal thread being linked across all subjects, I don't think I would have been able to identify that as an area I wanted to explore." Jamaal recently completed an internship with a company using neuroscience to learn how to form leadership strategies, group dynamics, and interpersonal communications.

Sonia Mittal

Sonia entered the First Program and credits Dalton for developing her confidence and teaching her how to raise her voice and share her opinions. She believes that the foundation she received from Dalton enables her to thrive in her marketing career, where collaboration and teamwork are essential. "I learned integrity, honesty, and compassion at Dalton. Dalton doesn't just create smart people but also good people who learn to lead and make change. To this day, my Dalton friends do not sit back and coast; rather, they are still raising their hands and are involved in as many community initiatives as possible. Dalton taught us to take bold steps." Sonia graduated from Dalton and received her B.A. from Brown University.
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