One GPS alumna felt the fortitude of self-confidence, sparked years before at GPS, as she ascended the stairs of the United States’ highest court early in her career. Today, she and her family have founded an endowment to celebrate and recognize talented students’ achievements.
Belief in Herself
As Kerri Martin Bartlett ’75 walked up the stairs to the iconic Supreme Court building, she gave herself a pep talk: You can do it. You can get this job. It may not work out, but you’ve got what it takes.
Her belief in herself—and tireless preparation—worked. Bartlett clerked for Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist for a year, where she worked on the cutting edge of the legal profession.
“The application and interview was a daunting and exhilarating experience—and it was years in the making,” Bartlett says. “My years at GPS, where people encouraged me to follow my dreams, helped lead me to my career. The foundation of my self-belief started, unquestionably, at GPS.”
Following her work for the Supreme Court, the University of Virginia Law School graduate worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where she again turned to her self-confidence to get her through many legal cases, including prosecuting the FBI’s top 10 most-wanted criminals.
“When you’re on the battle line like that, healthy self-confidence is a job requirement,” Bartlett says. Often the only woman in the courtroom, Bartlett knew she belonged there, in part based on the foundation that started when she walked in the doors at GPS as a seventh-grader.
Furthering a Legacy
Throughout her career Bartlett held a number of positions in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Now retired, Bartlett lives in New York City, and she was excited to reconnect with the GPS community. After serving on the board of her daughters’ all-girls school, Bartlett connected with Maria Kain Matthews ’75, a classmate and former associate in the GPS Development Office. Bartlett was interested in giving back and reconnecting with GPS.
“I realized what an incredibly strong role GPS played in my life,” Bartlett says. She was ready to continue the school’s legacy. Bartlett joined the Board of Trustees eight years ago, now serving as its secretary, and she’s enjoyed playing a critical role in helping the school address challenges and prepare for its future.
In working with former Head of School Dr. Autumn Graves, Bartlett was surprised to learn there wasn’t a strong merit-based scholarship program for students. Her husband, who comes from a family of educators, wanted to contribute some of the family’s resources to start a merit-based scholarship in Bartlett’s name.
“I’m very pleased to be able to support girls of particular academic merit who want to attend GPS,” Bartlett says. “I’m hopeful the fund can grow and we can open the opportunity of a GPS education to more young women. I want to ensure girls at GPS have the same experience I did—that they feel challenged and also supported. I want them to believe in themselves. While figuring out what you want in life is a long process, GPS provides all the tools for making goals a reality.”