fbpx Alan R. Jones and Nadia Saliba | Phillips Exeter Academy

Alan R. Jones and Nadia Saliba

Year of Graduation: 
1972 and 1995
Nadia Saliba and Alan R. Jones

"We give to Exeter, and The Exeter Fund in particular, because of how grateful we are for all the ways the Academy has impacted our lives."

In our roles as alumni co-chairs of The Exeter Fund, we have been reflecting on our time as students; what the Academy means personally to us now; its impact on who we have become; and why it is so important for us to give back.

Exeter embraced us during some of the most formative years of our lives, creating a foundation that we have built upon as adults. The significance of adolescence and the Academy’s opportunity and duty to shape it is written in the 1781 Deed of Gift: “... how susceptible and tenacious they are of impressions, evidences that the time of youth is the important period, on the improvement or neglect of which depend the most weighty consequences, to individuals themselves and the community.” 

When we take account of how our time at Exeter shaped our thoughts and actions in the years that followed our graduations, the importance of non sibi and the integral relationship between goodness and knowledge become more apparent. The Academy strives to teach a way of being in the world and interacting with other minds — a way of learning, but also a way of living.

The pursuit of truth and knowledge produces more certainty in dialogue and a deeper purpose in individual and communal relationships. At Exeter we learned that non sibi means thinking outside ourselves to others, to community and to society, and that we each have a responsibility to add to the greater good. We learned about non sibi at the Harkness table as we were taught the responsibility to listen as well as to share. We learned to respect other opinions even when they were very different from our own. We learned that we could solve great problems together better than we could alone.

The Academy strives to teach a way of being in the world and interacting with other minds — a way of learning, but also a way of living."

Our experiences at Exeter are personal to each of us. For me, Nadia, Exeter is many things. It is the “aha” moments in class around the Harkness table when a question seemed to come together, and I felt excited about what I was learning and the process behind it. It is the friends I made while I was at the Academy and the people I met there who became my friends many years later. And it is the other Exonians who have become my friends even though our time at the Academy may have been separated by decades. Exeter is the richness of having a community of people who do an incredible variety of things. I have classmates and friends who are chefs, TV executives, photographers, start-up founders, doctors, and many other things; and they are exploring their careers in locations all around the world. There is no other period in my life when I have been surrounded by a group of people who later took on such a rich assortment of professional and personal challenges in later life.

For me, Alan, as a kid from South Central Los Angeles, I was introduced by my high school counselor to an Exeter alumnus who sponsored me to attend PEA’s Summer School program. I was fortunate to then receive a scholarship for the regular session and quickly discovered that I had not even come close to achieving my true potential. I had the privilege of learning from legendary instructors, serving as a proctor in Soule Hall, participating on the basketball and track teams, earning spending money by working in the “new” Academy Library and Wentworth dining hall, and, of course, experiencing my first snowstorm. Many of my closest friends even now are Exonians. Our shared experiences have lasted a lifetime. Exeter was an unrivaled opportunity made possible because someone saw in me a person that I had not yet come to know.

Our education and the community of people we know because of our experiences at Exeter have shaped who we are today."

We give to Exeter, and The Exeter Fund in particular, because of how grateful we are for all the ways the Academy has impacted our lives. Our education and the community of people we know because of our experiences at Exeter have shaped who we are today. Because of this, we want to enable other young individuals to have an even greater experience. We thank all of you who have helped make the Academy a truly amazing place for so many students, and we invite everyone to join us in giving back and making sure Exeter experiences continue for generations to come. 

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the winter 2019 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.

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