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Alumni Profile: Patricia Branch ’04

• MONITOR 2003-2004

When Patricia Branch ’04 was a young child, phrases such as “transformational experiences,” and “world traveler” might not have been part of her vernacular. True, she had international roots—her parents emigrated from Grenada to Brooklyn before she was born—but they rarely traveled beyond visiting family still living on the small Caribbean Island. Her mother was busy in retail while her father focused on his career as an electrical engineer. Meanwhile, Patricia navigated her way around the halls of a small K-8 Baptist school, the very same halls that would become a launching pad for an educational journey beyond her neighborhood.

“I was in a strong community of educators who knew the independent school system and its benefits,” Patricia says, “My principal had a St. Mark’s contact who came to visit and tell us about the School. Then my friend, Nadine Dillon ’02, went to St. Mark’s and had a great experience. So, I wanted to give it a try.”

It didn’t take long for Patricia to immerse herself into the St. Mark’s culture. She served as Monitor, Prefect, and yearbook editor, and she sang in the choir and the girls’ a capella group, the Cat’s Meow. Patricia was captain of varsity crew and the cross-country team, and became president of We The People, now known as the Black Lions Union, which offers a safe space for Black students to receive support and guidance and feel valued. The friendships she formed along the way with classmates from around the world sparked her passion to learn about different cultures. Academically, her interest in studying languages grew, and, after a trip to Italy, which, she says, was a remarkable experience she will forever treasure, she developed a love for international travel.

“St. Mark’s allowed me to discover who I was and what I was interested in pursuing. Being part of such rich, immersive, and diverse experiences at age 14 was truly transformational, and it really opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. In addition to that, having friendships in a boarding environment is something you just can’t replicate anywhere else. It is a microcosm of the real world in that in order to have successful relationships, you have to understand what motivates people and look for opportunities to find a common cause,” she says."

Patricia reflects on other transformational moments, like the annual St. Mark’s visits to the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center in New York City. For her, this trip always meant going home, but it also meant seeing New York in a different light.

“I grew up in a family who was culturally rich in their own way, but I had not been exposed to the opera. So, every year I looked forward to going back to New York because it helped me realize the value of diversifying my perspective of my own city. I’m very appreciative of those trips, and of the St. Mark’s community who offered their financial support so I could attend them,” says Patricia.

The support she received to obtain a St. Mark’s education and partake in every experience that came with it is something she never forgets, and she shows her appreciation by making a positive impact wherever she can. While earning her bachelor’s degree from Emory University, for example, she led a multicultural association to help students engage with others from diverse backgrounds. After obtaining an MBA from Harvard Business School, she aimed to find a profession where she could help individuals and organizations thrive. Patricia worked at Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and London-based impact investing firm, AgDevCo before becoming a director at the Ernst & Young strategy consultancy firm EY-Parthenon. In 2020, she became a senior manager in the consumer products practice at Bain & Company, where she works with both large corporations and private equity investors.

While these jobs have taken her all over the world, she’s always been thinking about how she can give back to her St. Mark’s home. When the school began the Lives of Consequence campaign, Patricia made a gift to the financial aid initiative. She’s participated in several career days for students through the years, and in 2019, she joined the Alumni Executive Committee. In July 2021 she joined the Board Trustees, and in September 2022 she began leading the board’s Community and Equity Committee.

“I’m excited about the community and equity work we’re doing,” she says. “It assists in professional development for educators and supports students of increasingly diverse interests in evaluating their own identity and respecting each other for who they are.”

The work Patricia is leading now as an alumna helps St. Mark’s students think through different lenses as they explore who they want to be and how they can impact the world, similar to how her educators supported her when she was a student.

“When I look at my own St. Mark’s experience, what made it so powerful for me was feeling surrounded by adults who really cared for me. They were nurturing and invested in my curiosity. This kind of environment gave me the courage to engage with people with whom I seemingly had nothing in common, but yet still built strong relationships with. St. Mark’s helps students realize their value and what they can bring to the community,” she says. “The School environment as a whole—and the teachers I had—helped me unlock who I was as a leader and gave me the ability to test that out on campus and beyond, and for that I am deeply grateful.”