Advice From Alumni For Current Students During Alumni Day

On June 2nd, 2019 Bronx Science welcomed back some of the thousands of alumni who represent our school in their work and daily lives.


Sazida Marzia

Caroline Holt ’10 and Katherina Brown ’10 read the latest issue of ‘The Science Survey’ during Alumni Day on June 2nd, 2019.

The Bronx High School of Science boasts eight Nobel laureates and numerous other graduates who have been incredibly successful in their fields, attesting to the unparalleled level of education provided by the school. Thousands of alumni carry their Bronx Science experiences with them throughout their lives. 

It is important to remember that each student’s experience is shaped not only by the academic rigor of their high school, but also by the community that they are a part of. The people make the school as much as the school makes the people.

During Alumni Day on June 2nd, 2019, I met with many of our alumni and heard their stories.  A small sampling is below.

Valerie Gulston ’70 describes success as being content with oneself, as well as the impact one has had on others. This idea of success is widely shared among Bronx Science alumni, with each taking pride in their own accomplishments and impact on those around them while simultaneously condemning the over-emphasis on monetary value and fame.

Gulston retired from the Board of Education seven years ago where she worked as a computer and hospitality teacher, and continues her devotion to educating young people by travelling to schools and career fairs to share her expertise. Although her high school experience did not play a primary role in her decision to become a teacher, Gulston takes incredible pride in the education that she received at Bronx Science.

“What I did appreciate about Bronx Science was the level of academic rigor in the school, and I love the atmosphere because it was very conducive to learning,” said Gulston. “I really admired a lot of my teachers, and I think it fostered my love for education.”

Gulston’s teaching career was largely successful, as not only was she respected by her peers, but she also left a long-lasting impact on her students.

“One of the things that I’m really happy about is a lot of my former students are in touch with me. They’re married now, they have children, and they credit me for really helping them a lot in their careers,” said Gulston. “So you feel a sense of happiness and pride when you see young people getting ahead and they credit you for it.”

Many alumni like Gulston have devoted themselves to education ─ teaching in any capacity from preschool to postdoctoral programs. After having the opportunity to learn science at a higher level in high school, they sought to expand their own as well as others’ knowledge and understanding.

“I became a science teacher because I went to Bronx Science,” said Natalie Williams ’81. “Had I gone to any other school, I guess the model of a science teacher as the greatest thing you could be would not have been set in my mind the way it was, as it was from coming here.”

Before retirement, Eugene Davidson ’44 specialized in biochemistry, taught at Duke and Georgetown, and founded the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at Penn State University. Throughout his career, Davidson sought to provide students with the same type of guidance he had received at Bronx Science.

“I trained a great many students and postdoctoral people,” said Davidson. “[To be a mentor] means engaging with them and treating them as an equal and giving them the best advice that you can give; that’s really important.”

Meanwhile, Robert Perea ’99 dedicates himself to bringing Science to the preschool classroom.

“My three-year-olds are probably the most scientific three-year-olds in the city. I’ve got them learning about gravity – on earth and in space – so if you were to ask them ‘what is gravity?’ they would tell you it’s the stuff that makes things fall. And now I’m trying to teach them how the planets revolve around the sun,” said Perea. “The parents of my kids love the fact that I bring all these unique angles to the kids’ classrooms.”

Regardless of what field they follow, Bronx Science alumni bring a higher standard of work and change wherever they are.

Dr. Wayne Gulston ’74, is unusual for a radiologist. Whereas most radiologists have minimal interaction with patients, Dr. Gulston gets out of his chair and asks them questions that may have otherwise gone unasked. In doing so, he has succeeded in helping numerous patients receive proper treatment.

“I talked to [one patient] before her exam and she said to me, she whispered, ‘my healthcare aide dropped me.’ So when I did the exam, I saw this mass that the referring doctors were ready to excise in surgery the next day. And I said, ‘you know what? I don’t think that’s a mass, I think that’s a blood clot.’ Because of what she said to me!” Dr. Gulston recalled. “So I ordered a special exam to prove that it was a blood clot, which we proved, and she didn’t have to go to surgery.”

With Andrea Gastaldo ’84, the influence of Bronx Science is spread worldwide. As a foreign service officer for the Department of State, Gastaldo works for integration between the Department of Defense and the Department of State and is a diplomat, representing the U.S. government in both quiet and conflict zones around the world, including Iraq. She found her initial inspiration for this path through the Bronx Science community, and was inspired to continue learning from her surroundings and the people around her.

“[Bronx Science] was very diverse, so the exposure to different people, different cultures, different backgrounds, different languages, different from my neighborhood and from my family helped me open up the thinking of what was I going to do,” said Gastaldo. “I’m still learning, and that’s something that we can always do, regardless of what we’re doing in life; Whether it’s work or family, you’re always learning.”

“I’m still learning and that’s something that we can always do, regardless of what we’re doing in life; Whether it’s work or family, you’re always learning,” said Andrea Gastaldo ’84.

Regardless of their paths, and regardless of how long ago they graduated high school, from five to seventy-five years, Bronx Science alumni take pride in their high school education and utilize their experiences to improve the world around them. Each person has made, and continues to make, an impact on society in a different way than the last. While many of them credit Bronx Science as the beginnings of their success, our alumni are the people who make and define Bronx Science, building its legacy for years to come.