Alumnae Career Day Keynote: A Keeper of Stories

Averill Hovey ’97 sees herself as a keeper of stories. 

“Through the stories and images that are often shared with me,” she revealed, “I am gifted the opportunity to be let into other people's lives and experiences. And just as in a library like this, some of the stories are sad, some are scary, some are suspenseful, some are wild, impassioned, and even slow, but to me, they're all valuable.”
Beginning with her own story, Hovey kicked off Foxcroft’s seventh annual Alumnae Career Day as the keynote speaker at Morning Meeting last Friday. A practicing Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Board Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC), she expressed the hope that “through my storytelling, not only will you gain some insight into my personal journey, but perhaps you may also see a little bit of yourself in me … in the basic humanness that we share.”

Hovey wove through the ups and downs of her journey starting with elementary school, “I was artistic. I drew pictures all the time which was considered nerdy,” through her time here at Foxcroft, “I recall in my early years at Foxcroft really grappling with both the expectations that were set for me and the expectations I set for myself. From the beginning of my 4 years to the end, I truly Michelangelo’d myself out of rock,” and then college, “My battles with expectations had returned. And throughout all of this, I began navigating the reality of my sexuality. This was, of all the stages of my life, what I refer to as the toughest.” Her desire to create art also dried up during that time.

During her senior year of college, Hovey “finally found a major that felt right for me and it forced me back into artmaking.” After graduating with a degree in mass communications, she eventually moved to the Denver area where she “found some very entry-level editing jobs at the Food Network and Home and Garden Television” and also started coaching lacrosse. When the TV work started to feel mundane, a coaching colleague mentioned teacher training, “So I left production and headed towards education.” 

After receiving her teaching license, Hovey ultimately found herself in a large public school working with first- through third-grade students. Not long after that, she learned about a program at Naropa University that offered a master's degree in clinical counseling with an option for an art therapy emphasis. “I began reading voraciously about art therapy. I got incredibly curious about the benefits of art and how it can be useful for expression and coping. I was fascinated by what materials were helpful for certain things and how they impacted emotional regulation. In the classroom with my students, I began instituting 15-minute drawing check-ins each morning. They would draw and then have an opportunity to share with me how they were arriving at school that day. I was amazed at the material that emerged from my students' images. What appeared to be just simple drawings elicited so much emotional material.”

She was hooked and decided to pursue a degree in counseling and art therapy. During that time, Hovey shares, “My artmaking was beginning to flourish and coincidentally my comfort in sharing my identity and even being more forthright about myself universally became more and more accessible.” 

Since transitioning to counseling, she has worked with local school district crisis intervention and counseling, children in residential treatment, patients in active hospice care, participants in low-income housing, and individuals with developmental disabilities. Hovey, her wife, and two children live in Boulder, where she currently works at Naropa as a Visiting Instructor, sees private clients, and supervises young therapists looking to get their licenses. 

“In times such as these where distance has been required and isolation has been universal,” she reflected, “I have found that there is solace in recognizing that we are not alone. I hope that in some way you were able to connect to my story, even in the smallest way.”

In closing, Hovey offered this advice and encouragement, “In times of stress, it's easy to find a person to pick on or something or someone to blame. See if there's space in you to find expression in other ways. Sometimes it will take being seen by another human, sometimes it will take working with a professional, or singing Billy Eilish’s 'Bad Guy' or Lizzo’s 'Good as Hell.' Scribble, make a mess with paints, dance, hug, cry, laugh. Your journey is valuable — all parts of it. The sculpture that emerges from your excavating will be beautiful in its own right."

Hovey’s talk kicked off a morning full of stimulating breakout sessions conducted by ten alumnae who graciously gave their time to share stories about their professional paths with students. Representing classes ranging from 1987 to 2012, these women hail from a variety of fields and included a pediatrician, environmental planner, accountant and financial advisor, horse trainer, interior designer/architect, investment services advisor, life coach, visual artist, magazine editor-in-chief, and director of professional learning. 
Students each attended two sessions and learned a lot about the numerous possibilities for life after Foxcroft. Many thanks to these remarkable women and to the Office of Institutional Advancement, especially Associate Director of Alumnae Engagement Lindsey Stokes, for organizing the event.
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An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.