John Gatins is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter. In this episode, John speaks about initially coming to Hollywood to be an actor, before landing a chance opportunity to re-write a high school football movie called Varsity Blues in 1999. The film’s success launched a screenwriting career that would place John as one of the most sought-after “script doctors” in Hollywood, working on films ranging from Behind Enemy Lines to Power Rangers to the forthcoming Aladdin 2. But it also enabled John to champion his passion project—a complex character study about an alcoholic commercial airline pilot called Flight, starring Denzel Washington, which garnered John an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay in 2013. John also describes growing up in New York, and how his mother landing a job in the advancement office at Vassar College changed the trajectory of his life. Due to Vassar providing tuition assistance to the admitted children of Vassar staff, John and his siblings were able to access a college experience they could never have afforded otherwise. John and his wife Ling, whom he met at Vassar and was also a financial aid recipient, credit Vassar with inspiring them to become Parent Chairs of Annual Giving at Harvard-Westlake—aiming to provide at Harvard-Westlake the same type of transformational educational opportunities that had been afforded to them in college. John references Pat Vrett of Arlington High School (NY), Elizabeth Socolow of Vassar College, and filmmaker Robert Zemeckis as profound life influences.
Monthly Archives: April 2022
Jocelyn Medawar has taught English at Harvard-Westlake for more than 30 years. In this episode, Jocelyn speaks about the magic of finally teaching “in-person” again, how to build a community of both levity and trust within her classroom, and also the art of assembling an effective college recommendation letter. Jocelyn also speaks about growing up in Los Angeles and commuting across town to Immaculate Heart High School, before attending Stanford and then joining the Westlake faculty one year before the Harvard-Westlake merger. Jocelyn expresses profound gratitude for her decades of service to HW, not only for the joy and amusement she experiences with students, but also the support she has felt in times of tragedy, including after the death of her late husband Dan in 2013. Jocelyn references Immaculate Heart teachers Carmen Hill, Marian Sharples, and Tony Bruzzese as profound life influences.