Hilary E. Harley '82

Hilary HarleyWhat is your most notable Shady Side memory?

Where to begin? Shady Side gave me the opportunity to learn from the finest teachers and from friends that have lasted a lifetime. Three notable memories stand out: Mr. Joyce's Art History class, summer reading and finally figuring out geometry.

Mr. Joyce's Art History class was an overview of art stretching from the renaissance to post-modern work. He introduced me to worlds I had never seen before and cultivated my life-long interest in and love of modern art.

Some of my favorite books came from the summer reading lists. These works challenged me emotionally, intellectually and definitely spiritually. One book in particular shifted my belief and opinion about the death penalty: Richard Wright's landmark work, "Native Son." After finishing it, my mind changed 180 degrees, from supporting the death penalty to knowing how unjust it truly is.

Last, I had struggled with geometry and when I moved into Mr. Felder's section, I started connecting the mathematic dots. He was so happy for me and how I mastered the problems.

Who was your favorite Shady Side teacher and how did they influence your life during your time at SSA and beyond?

Without a doubt, Phil Joyce, my art and art history teacher, was my favorite teacher and biggest influence at Shady Side. My sister Heather strongly encouraged me to take art class, even though I really didn't think to as a freshman. She told me to sign up for art as an outlet from academic pressure. She was SO right!

I took art class all four years of high school, three of them taught by Mr. Joyce. He was the kindest, most thoughtful instructor who possessed many varied artistic talents and skills. I learned cloisonné, calligraphy, painting and drawing from Mr. Joyce. But more importantly, he taught me empathy, professional courtesy, humor and how fun creativity truly is. He gave students a soft place to land during the day, a bit of respite from our studies, and offered such a congenial atmosphere to gather and share life. Mr. Joyce taught me that you can do what you love for a living and love what you do.

How has your education at Shady Side made an impact on your life?

I'm not able to quantify the endless gifts and tools Shady Side equipped me with to navigate life. It sparked my life-long love of art, literature, history and learning. I'm a seeker and searcher by nature and Shady Side stoked my curiosity. My experience taught me that questions never end and to pursue answers for the sheer joy of the journey.

How do you describe Shady Side to members outside of the Shady Side community?

The best school in Western Pennsylvania.

What influenced you to make your very first gift to Shady Side?

I wanted to pay it forward to future students and give back to the school, even in some measure, all it gave to me.

What made you consider a planned gift to Shady Side?

I wanted to honor my sister Heather, an original shady lady, class of 1977. If it weren't for her, I would not have attended SSA. I also wanted to offer faculty opportunities through my gift designated to faculty support.

Why should others consider putting SSA in their estate plans?

To say thank you for the immense and innumerable benefits and influence the school blessed you with.

The Semper Society