There couldn’t be a more fitting person to start off our alumni profiles than Oriana Minshall: a Step One alumna with one alumnus child (Oliver, age 7) and a daughter Chloe in Room 3. Plus, she never met a problem she didn’t want to tackle (preferably with a beautiful data set). The exploratory Step One spirit in action!
Hi, Oriana! Can you tell me about your experience at Step One?
I remember my teacher Gege. She was amazing: confident, loving. Every day I would find her, grab her arm, and say “Gotcha!” It was our special routine and helped me feel connected. I also loved my teacher Seth; he played the guitar and had long hair. That made me feel at home because my dad had long hair too!
I remember the yard and the hill, how it seemed like a whole city. Seeing it again, I realized that it’s a school campus, not a forest, but my memories give me insight into the amazing way my kids see it now.
That’s the perfect transition, because I wanted to ask you what it’s been like having your kids at Step One.
Step One has been everything I could ask for. Oliver’s first year was super-special: his teachers were as loving as parents but with a great perspective on helping him with social skills. He was shy and they helped him find a strong buddy relationship and speak up for himself. In the beginning of the year, if someone took his toy he would walk away. By the end of the year, he could say no.
Chloe has thrived at Step One, too, and she’s a really different personality. The teachers take the time to learn about each kid and have an innate ability to sense what they need.
Tell us a little bit about yourself – what gets you excited in day-to-day life?
I just got my undergraduate degree in economics from Mills, and I have to say my passion is life is data. I love to think about economic problems and turn them upside down. It’s actually a very preschooler attitude! Some of that was formed at Step One, and some through being a mom of preschoolers. A healthy dose of preschool questions is good for everybody!
From an early age I liked statistics without knowing what it was. As a kid, I enjoyed sorting my Halloween candy, thinking ‘What’s the probability of M&Ms occurring?’ With my first statistics class, I fell in love with using math to explain the world. In my future work, I would love to solve problems with social benefit, especially ones related to kids like the huge rise in childhood allergies.
It’s inspiring hearing about your passion for what you love. Before we go, anything else you would want people to know about Step One?
Step One has that same Berkeley peace and love vibe as when I was a kid. In my opinion, there’s no other way to interact with children!
I’m so excited to come back to the Step One community as a parent. It feels like coming home. I honestly think we have that in common as Step One parents, whether we are alums or not. It feels like you’re coming home, and this is your family.