01 May Changing Lives
Concord Academy’s dedication to diversity — of backgrounds, perspectives, and talents — is written into its very mission. It may not be apparent at first glance, but a commitment to providing financial assistance is integral to CA’s identity as a school renowned for teaching individuals who go on to make their mark on the world. In no other way can the best possible combination of students be brought together, regardless of socioeconomic status, culture, language, location, or beliefs. CA changed the lives of this alumna, who received financial assistance to attend, and she in turn shaped the school and the experiences of her peers for the better. Now she’s giving back to CA and helping to ensure access for a new generation of students.
“It was an escape hatch and a launching pad.” That’s how Danielle D’Onfro-Epps ’02 describes receiving financial aid to attend Concord Academy. “I arrived at CA from an underperforming school system and found myself excited and challenged for the first time,” she said from her new home in St. Louis, which she shares with husband Dan Epps ’02 and their 18-month-old son, Oscar.
“My mother was cleaning houses, and one of her Concord clients suggested she think about Concord Academy for me,” said D’Onfro-Epps. “My mother was a great believer in education, so she encouraged me to apply. My time at CA was life-changing. I learned that CA is a place where people trust and help each other. It’s where I learned that the quality of my work mattered.”
D’Onfro-Epps went on to attend Columbia University and Harvard Law School and is currently a lecturer in law at Washington University in St. Louis, where Epps also teaches. Along the way, she served as a research assistant to then-Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren and worked as a senior associate for the Boston firm of WilmerHale.
“I still use so much of what I learned at CA,” she says. “George Larivee’s Statistics class not only helped me get over my fear of math but also became the driving force in my work in the law firm.” She also recalls her English teacher, former faculty member Andrew Watson, teaching her how to write a paper. “He helped me in ways no one ever has since,” she says.
D’Onfro-Epps also considers her time in the dance and art studios as formative. “CA is all about abundance,” she says. “There’s so much to try. The school creates an environment that teaches you to get better by doing. You take that feeling away when you leave.”
You also take the CA network with you, she says. “My CA friends are still my friends — I even married one! Every time we land in a new city, Dan and I find other CA grads who are always happy to connect. We love to spot that CA ring. These connections are a huge part of what makes CA such a valuable springboard. You always know they are there for you.”