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Alumni Spotlights

Luca del Olmo '15

What has he been up to since GHS?


After graduating from Gifft Hill School in 2015, Luca went on to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. While there, he joined the Institute of Industrial Engineers and became president of UF Club Tennis. Luca represented his school in national tennis competitions. He graduated in 2020 with a degree in industrial and systems engineering. 


After graduating from the University of Florida, Luca moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he accepted a position as facility manager with FritoLay. He now manages a distribution center as well as the supply chain and distribution of FritoLay products to South Florida. 

Luca del Olmo.jpg

Roma Goodlander '92

What has she been up to since GHS?


Roma is our first alumni spotlight whose time at our school began and ended before Gifft Hill School officially came into existence. She attended what was then known as the Pine Peace School from 1985-1992 for preschool through 6th grade, as that was the highest grade offered at Pine Peace at the time. She went on to graduate from Antilles School, taking the ferry to St. Thomas each day to complete her secondary education. She then studied at Brandeis University in Boston, where she earned her bachelor's degree and MBA. After 10 years in Boston, Roma moved to the Netherlands, where she lived for five years, then Singapore, where she’s lived for the past 8 years. 

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Tomas del Olmo '18

What has he been up to since GHS?


Tomas graduated from Gifft Hill School in 2018 and went on to attend Siena College in Albany, N.Y., where he’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting with a minor in information systems. Once he graduates, Tomas plans to pursue a master’s degree in accounting. The del Olmo family including the youngest, Malena, ‘23, is passionate about tennis, and Tomas is playing Division I tennis for Siena College. He’s been a captain of the team since his sophomore year. 


“I strongly believe that GHS prepared me to take my college courses,” says Tomas. “Taking pre-calc and calculus helped me with my lower-level accounting classes. In my first-year seminar class, we had to write a 10-page paper and while many of my classmates hadn’t written one before, I already had this experience from language arts class at GHS.” 

Genesis Dawson '17

What has she been up to since GHS?


Gifft Hill School’s 2017 valedictorian went on to attend Duke University, where she studied biology on a pre-health track. Genesis recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. While at Duke, Genesis served two years as president of the Duke Students of the Caribbean Association; she volunteered at Bull City Fit, a community-based wellness program for families, and at the Duke Puppy Kindergarten, part of Duke’s Canine Cognition Center, where dog psychology and cognition are studied. Genesis also danced with Duke’s competitive Raas-Garba dance team, DBS Raas.


Genesis wants to pursue a career in health and medicine, and she plans to go to med school so she can someday become a physician. While at Duke, Genesis learned the impact and importance of research, clinical exposure, and community involvement—among other things—and she hopes to further explore these concepts on her journey in health and medicine.

Genesis Dawson
Chenijah Dawson

Chenijah Dawson '19

What has she been up to since GHS?


Chenijah graduated from GHS in 2019 and went on to attend Savannah State University, where she is currently a junior studying business management. She’s part of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps where she’s a trainee midshipman and the midshipman supply officer. Once Chenijah graduates from SSU, she plans to join the U.S. Navy as an officer. 

Jessica Samuel '09

What has she been up to since GHS?


Jessica graduated in 2009 from Gifft Hill School and went on to attend Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a 4-year merit scholarship. There she studied anthropology and African American studies and graduated with honors. Afterwards she received a Masters in Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and in St. Louis Jessica taught high school English and Writing as a Teach for America corp member. She serves as an appointed member of the Racial Imbalance Advisory Council for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She studies race, education, colonialism and the environment, including where they might converge, in the United States, its territories and the Caribbean. Jessica finished her PhD in May of 2021 in the American & New England Studies Program at Boston University.

Jessica Samuel
Makeda Dawson

Makeda Dawson '15

What has she been up to since GHS?


After graduating from GHS in 2015, Makeda attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. where she studied Aeronautical Science and began training to become a pilot. While at ERAU, Makeda mentored other women as part of the university’s Women’s Ambassador Program, and she secured two coveted flight operations internships at Procter & Gamble and Delta Air Lines. Makeda joined the handful of Black women that make up less than 1 percent of all commercially certified pilots in the U.S. when she earned her Commercial ASEL certificate this March. 


Makeda is a member of Sisters of the Skies and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, organizations that seek to promote diversity within aviation. She works full time and resides in Orlando, FL. Though Makeda has put her flight training on pause due to a lack of finances needed to complete her last three ratings required for employment in the aeronautical field, she plans to pursue a Masters in Aviation Management and looks forward to becoming a captain for a major U.S. airline.

Paul Nellis

Paul Nellis '04

What has he been up to since GHS?


Paul is a graduate of the first-ever Gifft Hill School graduating class in 2004. After graduating from then-named Coral Bay School Paul enrolled at Colorado State University to study Hotel/Restaurant Management and Business Administration. As a Colorado native, he was drawn back to his hometown to pursue his college education. After university, Paul went on to manage restaurants which led him to hotel management for companies such as Hilton Hotels, Starwood, and a few private boutique hotel brands. Paul later ventured out of the traditional hospitality industry into the tech world working for which is a tech-enabled hospitality company offering private apartments for short-term rental which are professionally decorated and offer industry-leading customer service. At one of Silicon Valley’s rare unicorn start-up ventures, Paul has had the opportunity to lead guest service teams as well as branch into software product development with this innovative company. With Sonder, Paul has been able to travel the world to help open new markets and grow the company but still calls Colorado home. 

Alumni Spotlight

Do you know a member of the Gifft Hill School alumni community that we should highlight? If so, please let us know.

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