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Alumni Spotlight

Alumni spotlight
Ambre (Rypien) Devoti

Regional Director, East Coast at Heart of America Foundation

Ambre Devoti has taken a lifelong enthusiasm for volunteering and giving back and found purpose in her role as a regional director for the east coast for Heart of America, a non-profit organization that provides high-quality resources and transforms spaces in under-resourced schools into modern learning environments so that students and communities can learn and grow.
Ambre Devoti's passion for volunteering at Prep has stayed with her. When a neighbor who works for Johns Hopkins in Baltimore reached out to her for help in March, she and her husband John were all in.
As COVID-19 rapidly spread in the northeast and PPE was in critically short supply, Ambre gathered a group of friends to assemble personal preparedness packs for doctors and nurses at John Hopkins. Those packs included hand sanitizer, surgical masks, face shields and other items in a belt pack they could carry as they worked tirelessly to treat critically ill coronavirus patients.

Volunteering and giving back is a value shared by her parents from a young age that grew into a passion during her time at Gonzaga Prep. Clothing drives, car wash fundraisers and “empty bowls” during Lent for the Adelphia service group nurtured her enthusiasm for a life of service.
After Prep, she headed south, where she graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, focusing on youth programming and non-profit organizations.
“I have been blessed to merge my personal passion for volunteering with my professional career developing corporate giving strategies at Under Armour, T. Rowe Price and now on the non-profit side with Heart of America Foundation,” says Devoti.

Heart of America’s mission has never been more relevant than during the coronavirus school shutdowns when homes across the country suddenly became primary learning spaces. The organization pivoted to discover ways to get much-needed materials into the hands of students learning from home.
School and facility closures have shown what Heart of America aims to remedy: a stark inequity in resources such as basic supplies, modern learning spaces, and technology. Many households share one cell phone to access learning resources while adults themselves need the technology for work.
“Prep was such a huge part of my life during extremely critical years and I will forever be thankful for the impact they made on me. Hopefully one day I will be able to return the favor!”

Dr. Steven Kernie `84

studied at Stanford University, earned his medical degree at the University of Washington, and served his residency and taught at the University of Texas Southwestern. The Chief of Intensive care at New York-Presbyterian’s Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, he's also Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at Columbia University.

Dr. Steven Kernie `84 unexpectedly found himself at the epicenter of New York City’s COVID-19 response as cases blew up exponentially in March. “We had to pivot as a hospital to many things we were uncomfortable doing,” he said. The children’s hospital, where Kernie is chief of the ICU, began taking care of very sick adults and vastly expanding its capacity to take care of the critically ill.

“I depended upon many established relationships that focused on teamwork, and who already functioned together well.” Even in crisis they performed spectacularly, largely due to teamwork, collaboration, and working selflessly. The greater good greater outweighed the fear and anxiety that came along with operating in such uncharted territory.

Service to others with a common purpose calls back to lessons he learned as a student at Gonzaga Prep.
“The common theme of social justice that permeated everything that was important to me at Prep impacted many of my future professional and personal decisions,“ Kernie said.

The sense of giving back and providing service with activities that are the hallmarks of Knights of the Leash and the annual Food Drive. “These were all things I’ve drawn on while navigating the pandemic.”

Kernie recalls teacher Ron Long chief among the numerous teachers who had a positive impact on him at Prep. Long was Kernie’s freshman football coach and ASB advisor his senior year when Kernie was ASB vice-president.
“His leadership style, intellect, passion, sense of humor, and sense of justice were all qualities that I admired and emulated for many years,” Kernie said. “He was such a powerful role model and influence to me.”
Kernie’s decision to become a doctor was a direct result of values cemented during his years at Prep.
In choosing pediatric critical care as a specialty, he’s been fortunate in his career to care for children most in need.

Dr. Kernie and his wife live in New York. Along with their 3 adult children, they visit Spokane each year to see family and friends who live in the area.
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