Bishop Verot High School Alumni Spotlight
Our alumni go on to do great things once they have left the halls of Bishop Verot.
This month's Alumni Spotlight is on Kerri (Engelbrecht) Goldsmith '86
“I graduated from Verot in 1986, and then headed off to Stetson University with several other classmates. Little did I know that at one of my sorority (ZTA) socials, I'd meet the love of my life, Leon, who is still my better half 29 years later. He went into the Air Force, so we got married young and finished school along the way. My bachelor's degree is from USF with a concentration in marketing. Career-wise, I spent more than 20 years in the marketing/PR profession and then switched gears to become a financial advisor. Since joining HBKS Wealth Advisors in 2009, I earned the Certified Financial Planner certification, and enjoy helping people plan for their future every day. I feel strongly that my years at Bishop Verot prepared me well for the future. As students, there were high expectations of us when it came to ethics, character, community involvement, and academics. Our Verot family pushed us to always do our best, and be our best. Most other alumni I know adhere to those same standards years later - and we continue to stay in touch through Facebook, reunions, socializing, and doing business with each other whenever possible. I was incredibly proud to be a Verot parent of Amber (2010) and John (2014). I was fortunate to have the opportunity to get re-engaged in the Verot community from a different perspective, and see my children (and nieces and nephews) grow through their time there. Many things have changed over the years - newer buildings, library remodels, and air conditioning! However, the spirit of community remains the same. Bishop Verot is truly a special place.”
July ~ Adam Hall '94
“I graduated BVHS in 1994. I attended Columbia University where I studied Economics. My career has bounced back and forth between financial services (JP Morgan Chase) and Education Technology, where I spent 15 years as an entrepreneur and sold a couple companies (Impact Education and Nervanix). I'm now back in the Financial Services world, working for a large financial technology company called SS&C Technologies where I run a few businesses, one of which is the SS&C Learning Institute, which educates financial services professionals globally.
I had a great experience at Verot, and I've always felt a close connection to the school and to the community that supports it. The friendships I made at Verot (and St. Francis) have lasted me 30+ years -- and many remain as strong today as they were back then. I also believe Verot gave me a solid education, and one that prepared me for the rigor of higher education and ultimately, a rewarding career. The administration, faculty and coaching staff at Verot have everything to do with the "output" the school delivers... the output being well educated, well-rounded, compassionate, Christ-loving individuals who understand what it means to have character, and grit, and accountability. It's not enough to get a top notch education. It's also not enough to experience the best athletic programs around...nor is it enough to be surrounded by a safe, loving and supportive community. You really need relentless dedication to providing all three if you want to develop kids in a way that's truly going to position them for success and happiness in life. Verot does that very well.”
Adam and his wife, Angie, have four children and reside in Ft. Myers.
June ~ Billy and Amber (Hanson) Truax '00
"Billy and I graduated Bishop Verot in 2000 where we were the co-recipients of the Humanitarian Award. I attended Edison Community College completing the Dental Assisting program. Billy received his bachelor degree in Interdisciplinary Natural Science with a minor in Bio-Medical Physics from the University of South Florida. Having dated since sophomore year of high school, we were married in 2004. Billy began pursuing his Doctor of Dental Medicine at the University of Florida and earned his degree in 2008.
Bishop Verot really helped pave our futures. Our senior English teacher Mrs. Ficnerski really pushed me to apply for a scholarship to Edison, and helped write the paper that eventually won me a two year scholarship. I give a lot of credit to Coach Gill for helping me with my fine motor skills developed in wood shop, making me the best tooth carver in my assisting class. I have also copied many of Coach Gill’s templates and enjoy woodworking in my spare time. Billy really appreciated the great science program at Bishop Verot because it made the college science classes seem so easy. When it became time to apply to Dental School, we made many return trips to Bishop Verot to work with Mrs. Ficnerski to help write his application letter.”
Billy now has a private practice in Ft. Myers where Amber serves as the office manager. They have two children, Savannah (10) and Hanson (9), both attending Saint Michael Lutheran School, and future Vikings!
May ~ Jenna Sandoval '02
After graduating from Bishop Verot in May 2002, I studied Marketing at the University of Miami’s School of Business receiving my Bachelor degree in 2005. I began my career with Crispin Porter + Bogusky and then moved to Google working in sales & marketing for just over 7 years. Google gave me the opportunity to live all over the country (with a short business assignment in Singapore) which was an incredible experience. I furthered my education by earning a Marketing Certificate from Wharton in partnership with Google. For the past three years, I've been working at Instagram (first in Menlo Park and now based in Austin). I started in a global role at Instagram and have now transitioned into a management role, leading Instagram Business Marketing for North America and working closely with my Facebook counterparts.
My Verot education really gave me the zest to follow my passion for doing something in business (shout out to my Intro to Business Management class I took during my senior year at BV). Verot also taught me the importance of having a strong work ethic and being a well rounded person. To this day, I'm active in my local community mentoring students from the University of Texas while juggling a full time job - and still getting some tennis in every now and then.
My best advice to students is to network, network, network. Getting connected with people and developing those networks is key to both personal and professional success."
Keep in touch with Jenna on Instagram via account, @blondeinthebay.
April ~ Fernando Vieira '97
First of all, I’m the proud dad to a wonderful 7 year-old second grader named Locke. He’s a bundle of energy and curiosity and keeps me on my toes while bringing lots of smiles to my face. I graduated from Verot in 1997. I studied biological engineering at the University of Florida and then medicine at Harvard Medical School. My career and professional life has been dedicated to trying to better understand and treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a devastating disease that results in complete paralysis and death of the person afflicted, usually within 3 to 5 years of diagnosis.
I have been studying ALS for 17 years with the ALS Therapy Development Institute (https://www.als.net/about-als-tdi/) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I am now Senior Director of Preclinical Research. During that time, I’ve been part of a team that discovered a drug target (https://www.nature.com/articles/ng.557) and invented a drug (https://patents.google.com/patent/WO2010065819A1/en) we hope will begin human clinical trials within the next year. We hope this drug will slow ALS disease progression. However, we know this potential treatment won’t be a complete solution to ALS, so we continue to try to better understand the disease and search for even better treatments.
Our work as been featured in a couple of documentaries over the years:
Bishop Verot High School has helped me in so many ways. First, I’ll say the Bishop Verot faculty and staff modeled the Golden Rule and the Beatitudes wonderfully. I try to carry that model of living into my daily life with family, friends, and colleagues - admitting I fail possibly as often as I succeed. That said, Bishop Verot is where I also began to learn failures don’t mark the end of a worthy pursuit, rather failures mark the beginnings. Perseverance in the face of adversity goes a long way. That started to crystalize for me on the athletic practice fields and tracks at Bishop Verot. I also learned how to be part of a team. I learned how to rely on others and how to be reliable for others. Ultimately, Bishop Verot instilled in me the concept that a life in service of others is a life well lived. I should also mention it has been wonderful to stay in touch with my former Bishop Verot classmates and follow all of their fantastic growth and accomplishments through the years.
March ~ Shannon York '05
I graduated from Bishop Verot High School in 2005 and then from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2009. Though I majored in Hospitality Management, I somehow found my way into politics after living in DC for a couple of years. I now work at Stanford University as Chief of Staff to Condoleezza Rice.
When I think back on my high school years, I have such fond memories. The education I received at Bishop Verot has proven invaluable, both with the tangible but more importantly, the intangible. Verot instills a commitment to faith, family and community that is unmatched. Self-discipline is taught; hard work is expected; service is ingrained; and character is honed. Combining the structure of a Catholic education with the compassion of a communal environment forms a unique foundation for excellence in whatever you choose to do.
I'm a big believer in wisely choosing who and what surrounds you. There's no doubt that being surrounded by the Viking family during such formative years is ample preparation for all of the opportunities and challenges that may lie ahead in life. It's a special family that remains supportive, and I'm beyond grateful to be a part of it.