Giving Back: Supporting Women in STEAM

In 1999, Susan Kardevan Chapman ’71 was inspired by the work of her mother, Mary Krewson Kardevan ’32, to establish the Mary Krewson Kardevan ’32 and Susan Kardevan Chapman ’71 Scholarship Fund, which honors Mary’s contributions in teaching and mathematics. The fund provides need-based tuition assistance for a female upper school student interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). 

“I wanted to provide a legacy for my mother, whose passion was mathematics during a time when women were not encouraged to pursue careers in the subject,” Susan said. “The purpose of the scholarship is to help young women follow their own interests in STEAM programming. My mother would be elated at how Friends Select fosters an interest in those fields for young women.” 

At Friends Select, Mary was active as a class leader and participated in many programs, including athletics. In her yearbook, her peers note she “always chases our blues away with her spontaneous bursts of laughter and humor, which have been a very valuable asset to our class.” Mary was a math genius and became a dedicated educator, first teaching kindergarten from her home and tutoring children in her neighborhood, then teaching third grade for the School District of Philadelphia before advancing in her career to vice principal. Susan remembers her mother using her special talents to invent engaging tools for students, such as an interactive, battery-operated learning box that reacted to buttons pressed by students, once prompted by correct answers to questions. 

Mary prioritized her students and continuously upheld her personal promise to provide them with an exceptional education. Susan even recalls her mother being escorted by police from their home to cross a picket line so that Mary could access her classroom. “My mother’s duty was to the children in her class,” Susan said, “and she stopped at nothing to make sure they received a good education in a safe environment.” In 1969, Mary was recognized for her career achievements and service to her community with the Community Leader of America award. 

Susan’s own talent for mathematics was inspired by her mother. And when paired with her academic foundation from Friends Select, Susan felt prepared for her studies at the University of Miami, where she initially studied engineering and then transferred to the university’s School of Business to major in accounting and business law. Challenges did not necessarily lie in her actual coursework as much as in the representation of women in her programs. “The student and teacher populations were primarily male, and I was even the only woman taking engineering classes at the university,” Susan said. “It was certainly a stark contrast to my inclusive experience at Friends Select.” In 1975, Susan was nominated into the University of Miami Mortar Board—the national honor society—and subsequently elected president, which was the highest honor for women at that time. She also received the Who’s Who among Students in American Colleges and Universities award for the 1974–75 academic year. 

Now retired, Susan began as a staff accountant with Price Waterhouse for over six years with periodic promotions. Throughout her career as a certified public accountant, she served as the chief financial officer of several publicly-traded companies. “Friends Select prepared me for the challenges of a demanding career while being courteous and treating everybody I encountered equally and with respect,” she added. Susan was recognized for her work with the Who’s Who of American Women award in 1991. 

Incredibly active in the athletic program at Friends Select, Susan participated in practically any sport or program led by physical education teacher Betty Tayes, from cheerleading, field hockey, volleyball, and basketball to gymnastics and water ballet, a sport created during the use of the YMCA building in the late 1960s. Susan’s competitive spirit spilled over into her academics, and she recalls her ambitious will to exceed teachers’ expectations. “Master Gene Kerrick challenged our class to present the perfect essay, and I wanted to be the best,” she said. “Since we used typewriters, you had to be very exact because you were not permitted to ‘white out’ mistakes.” Susan identifies the lasting influence of the essay project and added, “Although I did not have the ‘perfect essay’ in Master Gene’s class, I definitely learned from that experience. When I was first starting out in my CFO role in a public company, people were amazed that I could flip through a large report and somehow find the one mistake.” Her interest in math, which has supported her throughout her career, was piqued by Master Bob Harnwell, who challenged her in algebra, calculus, and geometry. 

Susan cherishes her years at Friends Select School and still connects with the lifelong friends she made as a student. She is a long-time donor to the school and contributes through the Mary Krewson Kardevan ’32 and Susan Kardevan Chapman ’71 Scholarship Fund, annual giving to the Friends Select Fund, and has named the school in her will. She hopes other alumni are inspired to donate in gratitude for their Friends Select experiences. “I think it’s important to give back to the place that was really integral to our life after high school, into college, and adulthood,” she said. “Friends Select School is the foundation for what I have become, and it’s important to help the school’s current and future students have the same foundation.” 

For information about creating a tuition assistance fund or to make a gift to Friends Select School via your will, contact Christine Jefferson, director of development and alumni relations, at chrisj@friends-select.org, or 215.561.5900, x3141. 

To provide support for young women interested in STEAM, Susan Kardevan Chapman ’71 will match contributions made to the Mary K. Kardevan Krewson ’32 and Susan Kardevan Chapman ’71 Scholarship Fund—dollar-for-dollar— up to $5,000. 

To make a donation online, visit friends-select.org/giving and select “Financial Aid & Scholarship” from the gift designation drop-down box. Please add the name of the scholarship in the box asking for your gift inspiration. Or contact Mallory Burgan, director of development services, at malloryb@friends-select.org or 215.561.5900, x3108.