The student news site of Peddie School

The Peddie News

The student news site of Peddie School

The Peddie News

The student news site of Peddie School

The Peddie News

WeSoar Co-Chair Interview

WeSoar Co-Chair Interview

Interview with WeSoar Co-Chair Johára Tucker ’00:

Editor-in-Chief Claire Chen ’24 asks WeSoar Co-Chair Johara Tucker ’00 about Peddie’s Women Network, launched in 2022 to provide women of Peddie with an outlet for personal growth, career networking and increased connection. 


What was your personal motivation for joining and co-leading WeSoar?

[It’s] a way to be of service to the school that I really am so proud of be[ing] an alum of, but also a way for our female identifying alum to really be networking with each other and learning from each other, kind of strengthening our foundations. [It’s] also a way of outreach for current students as well. I think it’s a great opportunity to be with students and connect. It was an honor to learn more about it and to be asked to co-lead and be a part of it. It just drives me to come back more often or be more involved in what’s happening. 


How has WeSoar helped you in your own career and personal growth?

It’s connected me more with people who I’ve lost touch with, like people who have shown up to the dinners or the calls. Coming back last year for the dinner was a great time to be with students. Living closer to Peddie now and being able to come back and talk to the students has been great. Being connected to WeSoar right now has helped me be more committed to coming back. 


Coming back to Peddie after a while since you graduated, have you noticed any changes in how Peddie does DEI or offers spaces for girls at the school?

There was no formal DEI program when I was at Peddie, so that’s a huge change, so that’s one. Two, there wasn’t also a WeSoar or a formal alumni affinity group. There were student clubs like MCA (the Multicultural Alliance). That’s the one that I was a part of, but there wasn’t a formal program or events like DEI days. Of course, there’s also physical changes [to the campus] that are supremely interesting to see every time I come back, but [there’s also been] the programmatic changes that they didn’t have when I was there. I think Peddie is being hopefully responsive to what is happening, and allowing for student voices to say what people need. 


Peddie has definitely been positively growing in that direction because now we have a DEI council that magnifies student voices, as well as affinity groups and culture clubs, which has been nice to see. Focusing on DEI, having had experience working as the Director of Equity and Inclusion at four different schools, what are the differences you’ve seen from school to school, and what would you say are the best strategies you have found to encourage DEI in a school setting?

Every school is different, especially being in different regions, everyone defines [DEI] differently. What’s key for me every time is student voice and student involvement. There is no one-size-fits-all — I think the best practice is collaborating with students and making sure they feel heard and part of the process. That, to me, is the ultimate best practice because I can be at one school and say, boom, this is what you need, but that may not be the school culture. And I’ve been at different kinds of schools, [where] it may be a boarding population … every school is different, which means that you have to step back for a moment and think about what are the needs of our students? What are the ways in which we can make sure student voices are heard? I love the fact that every school has been different because it’s forced me to shift as a practitioner and think about how to approach this work, involve the faculty, and make it something sustainable. If it only lasts one year, is that really helpful? How do we make this so that we aren’t burning people out? How do we make this so that it’s a place of awareness, a way of discourse, but also a place of joy and celebration? And how do we make every student feel like they belong? That’s key for me. Every school is different, but the one thing that remains is that students are involved. 


Could you share a memorable conversation or moment that you have had through the WeSoar network and how that experience has impacted you?

Last year, when I came for the dinner, there was a young lady, I think she was a senior, and she said, “I’m so excited that this exists,” and I [asked her], talk to me about why. She said it’s specifically that it’s for women, and as I’m trying to figure out my next steps, I can really come to this group of women and email. This was the mentorship piece she was excited about. That made me excited, that she felt that there was a ready-made group she could walk into when she graduated and seek mentorship and networking. We have that in the alumni network, but I think that groups like this make it easier, especially when you’re just graduating. It’s a community of people willing to help and engage, and so that really was memorable for me. When you always hear about current students and about the impact that groups like this can have on them, it makes you continue to want to do the work. 


I’m definitely feeling the same way, since I’m a graduating senior this year. For me, it also feels like the alumni network can feel big and amorphous, and it’s hard to know where to start. WeSoar feels like a tight knit group that can help with that intimidation. 

Exactly, like you said, the alumni community is vast and can feel daunting to someone just stepping into it. When you have smaller groups, it helps make it seem more approachable, especially to someone coming straight out of high school. 


What upcoming WeSoar event or program are you most looking forward to, and what do you hope to accomplish with it? 

We have the family-style dinner coming up, which is a highlight for me. We are also thinking about doing some virtual events for an alumni body, and I always look forward to that and to learning about our constituent group: what are they up to, and what sustains them and motivates them? For me, I’m a school person, coming back to campus, and meeting students. My hope is to be able to come and spend the day and meet more students and affinity groups and things of that sort. I’m really looking forward to that. 


Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of different programs and clubs at Peddie that you could talk to. We have affinity groups, where people who identify the same way have a safe space to talk about their experiences, but we also have culture clubs that anybody can join to learn more about other cultures. 

We have a similar model at my school as well, between speaking from the “I” perspective and the “I want to learn perspective.” 


Thank you so much for this conversation! Is there anything else you wanted to share? 

I encourage students to get involved and really reach out to the alumni community, which is always willing to help and to be present for the current students. It may seem daunting, but it can be so helpful, and the connections are long lasting. WeSoar is a wonderful way for those students in affinity to connect. I’m excited to be present with you all in March and any other events that we have involving students.

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