Our Graduates Today

Joshua Samulak ’18

Joshua graduated from Hawken Upper School as a member of the Class of 2022. He is grateful for his parents and teachers from both Birchwood and Hawken.

What are some Hawken highlights?
I got the opportunity to work on an animation project. That made me realize I wanted to learn how to draw better so I began to practice. I took time to analyze great art to try to determine why it was better than others. Then implemented what I learned into my own projects.

What are you most proud of?
I made the most of my opportunities to learn and grow. I looked for ways I could develop my skills and broaden my knowledge base.

How about your Hawken baseball season?
We made the playoffs – seeded in second place. I enjoyed playing baseball all four years of high school and will continue in college.

Where are you going to college?
Carnegie Mellon University. I am planning on majoring in engineering. I am looking forward to being around smart people, learning as much as I can, and collaborating and contributing on group projects.

What are you grateful for?
I am most thankful for my parents and teachers that really helped me learn. 

I am thankful for Mrs. Tzeng at Birchwood as because of her classes I never had to worry about grammar or the basics of sentence or paragraph structure.

Mira Kabbara ’17

Mira is attending Case Western Reserve University, studying to become a registered dietitian. She is enjoying living at home with her parents and brothers while receiving individualized attention within the small group of students enrolled in Case’s Didactic Program in Dietetics.

Where did you attend high school?
Magnificat High School. My freshman year was easy because Birchwood taught me how to study and structure my time. I had the tools I needed and applied them according to the courses I was taking. I also strived to be well-rounded.

What did Birchwood provide you with?
I knew how to write an essay, cite articles, type, and speak in public coming into high school. The Birchwood Poetry Show also prepared me to stand in front of classmates and teachers and present material. 

What leadership roles did you take on in high school?
As a freshman, I started the Muslim Student Association, volunteered at a senior center, served at a food bank, and helped at a woman’s domestic violence shelter. I also had the opportunity to take part in an eight-day leadership conference for minorities. I was excited to learn more about how to be a leader which was a seed that was planted in me at Birchwood. 

What are you grateful for?
My parents and brothers for their tremendous support and for how much I love being home with them.

Omar Diab ’06

Omar enjoys life in Japan with his wife, Akina, and their Maltese poodle mix, Kurumi (Japanese for chestnut). He is a cofounder and partner of the software start-up, Spinach, and currently leads teams in building global payroll software.

When did your interest in technology begin?
My love for computers and software began early. While attending Hawken Upper School I began making music on my computer.

Where did your education continue?
Stanford University. I earned both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in computer science. Computer science allows me to work from anywhere globally and work in any industry. It has provided me with a lot of flexibility and options.

What are some career highlights?
I began working at the software company Clever. There were only 40 employees. Today Clever is used by more than 95,000 U.S. K-12 schools. Once in Asia I started working at Every.org before joining Spinach.

So much of what I have done is because of the network of people around me. It began with my parents who provided me with a top education and the freedom to pursue hobbies such as track and field, computers, and languages.

What did Birchwood provide you?
I learned to focus my will, practice, and do my very best. Birchwood set me up for a lot of great things in the future.

Great People - Doing Great Things

Birchwood School of Hawken graduates have gone on to great success in high school, higher learning, and their chosen professions that span education, medicine, science, tech, and more.
To meet more Birchwood graduates and read of their experiences at Birchwood, Hawken for high school, and their college selections click here.