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Alumni Success Story: Sharon Durkan '10
Sharon Durkan (’10) became a fierce advocate at a young age. When Durkan joined the TFS cross-country as a seventh grader, she saw the beauty in northeast Georgia. At the same time, cross country coach Scott Neal instilled in his runners that they were to leave no trace and to pick up trash they found on the trail. “I realized that our resources are finite and that we need to do everything we can to preserve it,” said Durkan. And that is when she started The Planeteers - the first recycling program at TFS. “The mission was to make people more conscious of what they were using every day and to take personal responsibility for objects that are not renewable,” she said.
Durkan didn’t stop there. She noticed that not all TFS students had equal computer access to do their homework. She spoke to the President and Head of School, Dr. Larry A. Peevy, about getting laptops for every student. “We met with the women’s club and explained why we needed them,” said Durkan. “It was my first experience advocating for the interest of others.”
Durkan explained that when Dr. Peevy arrived on campus, he realized students' voices were powerful. “He listened to me and took my advice,” said Durkan. “He went as far as to advocate for what I was advocating. We found shared priorities. He empowered us.” By the time she graduated, students had laptops.
For Durkan, TFS created a culture where she felt she could advocate for people and good causes. “It is what creates TFS pride, the fact that students feel like valued community members,” said Durkan. “The experience of being able to be a leader at a young age is specific to TFS; that does happen at every school.”
Durkan was president of her senior class and the TFS National Honor Society. As president of NHS, she coordinated the adoption of two families for Christmas and Thanksgiving, over $3,700 for the American Heart Association Hoops for Heart program, and enough money to buy a cow through Samaritan’s Purse.
“Sharon’s leadership was felt across campus,” said coach Scott Neal.
Durkan took those strong leadership skills to Smith College in Boston, Massachusetts, where she graduated in 2014 with a B.A. in government. After college, Durkan became a behind-the-scenes advisor to many local politicians in Boston and was heavily involved in grassroots activism, fundraising, and organizing for local leaders. Eventually, she ran her own business consulting for elected officials. After ten years of political experience, Durkan had the opportunity to run for Boston City Council.
On July 25, Durkan was elected to represent District 8 on the Boston City Council, where she represents some of the oldest institutions in the country – District 8 is home to Fenway Park and TD Garden. Durkan found that the people in her district are interested in quality of life issues. She has prioritized fighting for affordable housing, climate policies, and neighborhood services for her constituents.
Durkan is always looking for the opportunity to get involved on a level where she can make a difference. “TFS instilled that in me,” she said. “I had so many mentors pour themselves into me, I left with the impression that I really could make a difference in this world, and now it is all happening.”