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Lieutenant Kara Seil, US Navy, Retired, ‘94 | Halfway Around the World…and Back Again

Casa Grande High School '98
University of Portland '01
Navy Officer Candidate School '06
Administrator, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management
Kara Seil may have been a seventh grader when she arrived at SCDS, but she was hardly a newcomer. Her mother, Anne Seil, (pictured with Kara) was our second grade teacher, and Kara had visited Anne’s class many times. “I wanted to go to SCDS because I was really interested in foreign languages and fine arts, and knew that the school I was attending didn’t have as strong a curriculum in those areas,” she explained. “I had always liked visiting SCDS, and I knew my mom’s students.”
Happily, SCDS more than met Kara’s expectations academically and socially. “There was so much to do! All the art, the gardening, outdoor events, and other activities! I felt parents at SCDS did so much for their children and made sure the school could provide all the activities. SCDS’s culture was more informal and less structured than my previous school, and it seemed like people were able to think out of the box because of that freedom.
“All my memories of SCDS are good ones,” she continued. “My class was an eclectic mix. There were only four girls and nineteen boys, and some of the kids had been together since kindergarten. The seventh graders who, like me, were new to the school had come from all over the area. But, rather than feel like newcomers, we enriched the class with our varying experiences.”
Influenced by SCDS English teacher Susan Hirsch, Kara majored in English at University of Portland. However, after finishing college in three years Kara had reached a crossroads. “I had charged through my college career, and then said, ‘Well, what next? Do I get a teaching certificate, go to law school?’ I decided to teach in Japan while I made up my mind.”
She was placed in Toyama, where she taught English to junior high, elementary, and kindergarten students. “It was a wonderful experience. People were so kind and welcoming. I was in the Japanese countryside, and the schools were central to the community; in fact, they were revered. The teachers were called sensei, which means master, and highly regarded by parents and students.”
Kara renewed her contract a couple of times, not returning to the states until 2004. She entered Navy Officer Candidate School in 2005 and received an officer’s commission in 2006. “Joining the navy had always been in the back of my mind. I just wasn’t sure of the timing,” she explained. “My parents are retired navy officers, and I wanted to carry on the military tradition.”
However, as a business manager on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis, her navy service was a departure from the field of teaching. “In the navy we call the department logistics and supply, but basically I facilitated supplies, materials, and equipment for our ship.”
Kara moved with her ship as it was stationed in Florida, Georgia, the state of Washington, and back to California. As a manager she had as many as eighty non-commissioned and commissioned officers reporting to her. “I had a demanding job, but I learned a lot about managing people. I also learned that I could handle more than I thought I could.”
Kara retired from active duty in June and is delighted to be back in Northern California after a ten-year absence. She has launched a new career, working with individual investors in the San Francisco branch of Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, and living in Petaluma while she looks for an apartment near the financial district. “I’m glad to be back near my family, and feel like it’s a good time in my life for me to be here again.”

Sonoma Country Day School

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The premier, fully accredited, independent TK-8 college preparatory school in Sonoma County. Located in northern Santa Rosa and proud home of The Jackson Theater, SCDS offers a challenging academic program rich in fine and performing arts, music, world languages, and social and emotional learning. For more than thirty years SCDS has been the school that brings learning to life.