20 Questions with Dr. Rosemary White

Most of you know Dr. Rosemary White. You know she has a PhD in chemistry from Vanderbilt, and that she taught chemistry at BUA for six years before becoming the assistant head of school for academics and student affairs two years ago. You know she is BUA’s interim head of school for the 2018-2019 academic year. You know she is a stellar teacher, a caring advisor, a no-nonsense administrator, and a flat-out, all-around rock star.

But we wanted to know more about what really makes Dr. White tick, so we sat down to ask her 20 questions about herself – some serious, some silly. Read on to learn more about the woman in Room 201.

Where did you grow up, and how did that impact who you are today?

I grew up in a small town in North Carolina. I have also lived in Tennessee, California, New Mexico, Australia, and Italy. Each place has been so different – the people, the culture, the lifestyle, the food – and I enjoyed each one for different reasons. I am glad to call Boston home, but all of the other places I have lived have paved the path to who I am now. I appreciate what I have picked up along the way: my education, a love for the outdoors, lifelong friendships, countless memories, my husband, exposure to new foods, appreciation of different cultures, and experiences that I would not have had if I had not lived in each of these places.

What drew you to chemistry as a discipline?

I knew chemistry was the major for me when I took Organic Chemistry my sophomore year of college. It just clicked in my brain: negative attacks positive, like dissolves like, etc. I found it logical and beautiful.

How has BUA changed in the eight years you’ve been here?

The number of students has increased and the length of the senior thesis has decreased. Fortunately, the students are still as amazingly bright, motivated, and kind as they were the day I started at BUA and instantly knew this was the place for me.

How do you unwind after work or on the weekends?

I love to read. I also enjoy running and spending time outside with my 5-year-old son and husband. Sleeping on my couch is always a favorite activity.

What does leadership mean to you?

A good leader must listen to various voices and go into decisions with an open mind. I won’t know the answer to every question or be ready to instantly make every decision – no one should claim that they will. Instead I will rely on the thoughtful input of my colleagues and the BUA community as I make decisions for BUA.

For you, what have been the biggest differences between being a teacher and being an administrator?

I feel more separated from the students as an administrator. I miss being in the classroom and getting to work directly students. They are what makes BUA so special and why I love the school. My administrative role allows me to lead them and help them in a different way than teaching so I embrace that and try to make a difference in their lives and make their experience at BUA the best it can be.

Are you a sports fan?

I went to Duke, where college basketball is “the” sport. I don’t have much time to follow them these days, but I will always be a Blue Devil fan.

In your view, what are some of the biggest benefits of being affiliated with a global research university?

You cannot beat the variety of classes our students have the ability to take – it is unmatched by just about any other high school in the country. I also love the research opportunities our students have, especially with summer lab work. They have the chance to do cutting-edge research with amazing professors, post-docs, and graduate students. Such an amazing experience for a high school student!

What are you binge-watching this summer?

American Ninja Warrior, Lost in Space, and re-watching Parks and Recreation (Leslie Knope is my spirit animal!).

Do you have a hidden talent?

Hmmm… I can recite all fifty states in alphabetical order in under thirty seconds. In graduate school, I competed in Irish step dancing and taught aerobics (and did chemistry, too, of course!).

Nutrition aside, if you could choose one food — and one food only — to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Candy. I basically have the eating habits of an unsupervised child.

What books have you read recently that you would recommend to BUAers?

I enjoy books with fascinating and unique characters like the female protagonists in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I also like learning about history through novels such as The Atomic City Girls, Persepolis, All the Light We Cannot See, and Beneath a Scarlet Sky. I have enjoyed several YA books this year: Turtles All the Way Down, Attachments, The Hate U Give, and Girls in the Moon.

What does it mean to you to be a female Head of School at BUA?

I have had a lot of strong female role models and in my life, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve as one for our students this year.

How has being a parent influenced your teaching?

It has taught me to appreciate the little things and the short time I have with each student. Children grow up quickly and students graduate before you know it; I try to embrace the time I have with students while they are at BUA.

How has being a teacher influenced your parenting?

I try to be patient and answer my son’s endless “Why?” questions as best I can. I want him to understand why we have certain rules, why we make particular decisions, and why things are the way they are. Just like my students, I want him to understand as much as possible rather than just taking my word for it.

Do you have any pets? Will you be bringing them to school with you?

I have a pet cat named Mumbo – she is black and white and has only one eye. And no, she prefers to nap all day at home.

We know you enjoy baking. Will you share your favorite recipe with us?

One of my favorite cookies to make is Cowboy Cookies (Google it!). They are simple to make and a delicious sweet and salty combination. And they have oatmeal in them, which makes them a breakfast cookie in my book! Expert tip: I add M&Ms because more candy is always the answer – see Question 11.

What is your vision for BUA for the upcoming school year?

I want to continue to enhance our work on the emotional and mental health and wellbeing of our students. The Student Council has come a long way in the past few years, but I want to continue to find new ways to give students leadership roles and voices in decisions. Finally, I want to give faculty opportunities to grow and develop in their various roles at BUA.

Who was the first person you met at BUA?

I actually took a jump rope aerobics class called Ae-rope-ics at FitRec with Mr. Stone a couple of years before I applied for a job at BUA. Thank goodness the job interview did not assess my jump roping skills (or lack thereof).

What is your favorite joke?

Where do you find a nosy pepper? Jalapeño business (say it out loud).



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