Confident Leader and Lifelong Learner: Allie Lipshutz ’12

By Brenda Lange

Running, jumping, being in the outdoors, learning who she is and what she wants to do with her life, making lifelong friends, and climbing.

It is the climbing, especially, that Allie Lipshutz remembers and cherishes from her days at The Miquon School. Both the literal and figurative kind of climbing.

“My earliest memory of Miquon was the day I visited the Nursery at the age of four,” Lipshutz recalls. “I remember walking past the big, red playground with my mom and asking a young girl on the monkey bars to show me how to do them. She didn’t know much English at the time since she grew up in a Russian family, but she agreed to show me, and I was immediately hooked.”

The little girl was Anya Minasyan who became one of Lipshutz’s treasured friends and with whom she attended Germantown Friends School after graduating from Miquon.

Climbing soon became one of Lipshutz’s favorite things to do. She climbed the trees on the Kindergarten playground, created new worlds in the bamboo forest and eventually taught her own Nursery buddy to climb the monkey bars, coming full circle on the Miquon grounds.

“I’ve always been a naturally active person, but the freedom and encouragement Miquon gave me to run and climb and be a child fostered my active energy and allowed me to let loose even in the midst of my extensive and studious days,” she says.

Speaking of Studiousness. . .

Lipshutz has had many days full of study, and will continue to do so as she pursues her education in the 4-and-1 year Bachelor of Science-Masters of Public Health program at Barnard College and through Barnard’s partnership with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in Manhattan. As an undergraduate student, she is majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior with a Cellular Concentration.

Her fascination with neuroscience started because of a family member on the Autism Spectrum. She was curious, and became even more so when answers to her questions about the disorder opened the door to more unanswered questions. The more she asked, the less it seemed she knew. Then, in 2017, she participated in a summer program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where she decided that, for her, seeing a handful of patients in a doctor’s office each day could not compare to working with the larger community as a public health professional.

These experiences led her to identify her goal: working in the public health field, promoting the needs of the neurologically impaired through a medical policy lens.

As a self-identified “passionate scientist and social justice advocate,” she has realized that working in public health will allow her to pursue her love of science and medicine while reaching a greater number of people in need. And Lipshutz believes that Miquon’s holistic education laid the foundation of her personal desire to help and care for others.

“I found my role as a leader at a young age at Miquon.

“And because of the kind of place it is, that leadership was supported as I grew and took on increasing responsibility—caring for my Nursery buddy, leading mini courses, helping classmates think through challenging math problems or organizing teams for soccer at Choice Time,” she says.

“I believe that my leadership began at Miquon and it is my leadership skills and tendency to care for others that has resulted in my career choice.”

Allie Lipshutz (left)_Elise Hocking (right) 2005 African Market Day Allie Lipshutz (left) and Elise Hocking (right) at the 2005 Kindergarten African Market Day

Named to honor her mom’s Aunt Alice (but with a modern twist) Allie, who has grown to love the brevity of her name, was born in Trenton, NJ, in January of 2000, four days after a massive snowstorm that trapped her two moms in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, she was four days late in arriving, because her non-biological mom would not have been able to adopt her in Pennsylvania at the time. She says all went well, however, and she has lived in Germantown, near the Mt. Airy border, ever since.

Planning and attention to detail, it seems, have always been a hallmark of Lipshutz’s family. Her parents researched multiple schools before enrolling their daughter in Kindergarten. “Their list of potential schools for Kindergarten was longer than my list of potential colleges,” says Lipshutz with a laugh. “That just shows the extensive process they embarked on for me.”

Advice from friends and family weighed heavily in the family’s choice, as did their long list of prioritized criteria against which they ranked each potential school. It soon became clear that The Miquon School was the right choice for their child and their family because of “its focus on institutional authenticity, individualized instruction, fostering a positive and fun environment, allowing room for children to discover themselves, teaching students how to learn and establishing a comfortable environment for our family—one with which our family values aligned,” says Lipshutz.

“I am so grateful that my parents’ meticulous process landed me at Miquon. I really don’t know who I would be today if the outcome would have been different.”

Lipshutz went on to attend 7th through 12th grades at Germantown Friends School (GFS) with four of her Miquon classmates, with whom she is still close. Although she has lost touch with many of her non-GFS Miquon classmates, she enjoys catching up when they run into each other at the Spring Fair and other events. “It’s remarkable how much everyone has changed, yet how much my classmates still resemble their 12-year-old selves,” she says.

A Truly Confident Learner

At GFS, she fell in love with science and math and developed a fascination with biology and her current passion for systematic and behavioral neuroscience. She also fostered a love of music, and, as an avid singer, participated in school musicals, the A Cappella group, choir, chorus and toured Italy singing. She also was a tour guide for the school, played lacrosse and field hockey, and continued her Miquon-inspired love of climbing by taking classes at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts—a passion, and means of relaxation, that she continues to practice today.

The transition to GFS wasn’t always a smooth one in one way, which has certainly had a lasting benefit.

As Lipshutz (and a Miquon friend) sat down to take their first test at GFS, about their summer reading book, the girls opened the book, expecting to use it to help answer the questions, not realizing it was a closed-book test. Neither had memorized the content, a style of educating that simply did not exist at Miquon.

“I like this story because it points to the fact that at Miquon, I was truly taught to learn for the sake of learning, not for testing or to memorize information for the sake of regurgitating it later,” Lipshutz explains.

“Although I did not feel prepared for that first assessment, I have taken many tests since that one, and have learned to adapt to testing culture.

It is because of my Miquon education, though, that I have maintained a critical perspective toward test-based education and have been able to focus on absorbing the material rather than memorizing it.

“This mindset—of learning for the sake of learning that Miquon instilled in me—has broadened my approach to my education as I have progressed and helped me to enjoy the process of learning for what it is.

“As a woman in STEM, confidence and self-assurance are key. The individualized attention from my Miquon teachers instilled in me not only confidence as a learner, but also self-assurance as a person. Never once have I questioned my ability to learn and engage because of any aspect of my identity, and for that I am forever grateful.”

Allie Lipshutz in Italy, 2018 Allie Lipshutz in Italy, 2018