The English-Speaking Union

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Alumni Portrait Series

For the English-Speaking Union's centennial anniversary, we are highlighting several of the alumni who participated in our international exchange or scholarship programs. This series includes spotlights on Luard Morse Scholars as well as Secondary School Exchange alumni who spent time in the United Kingdom. Scroll down to read their stories and profiles!

Leslie Newman

Leslie Newman, our SSE alumni ESU Centennial highlight for this week, experienced "Swinging London" at Francis Holland School, an all-girls school at the time, in 1966-67. She graduated from NYU after her year with SSE and now lives in Illinois. In New York City, she worked with non-profits where she grew to love raising money for good causes. In Illinois, she has now worked with Lurie Children's Hospital on the board for almost 40 years, including as President of the Founders' Board. Leslie says that "because of the self-confidence and assurance I gained through the SSE program, that enabled me to accomplish all of these efforts." Click here to read more!

Marissa Scott

For our Luard Morse alumni highlight portraits, we interviewed Marissa Scott, who was granted the Luard Morse scholarship to King's College in London in 1997-98. She grew up in a small town in Louisiana. When she went to London, she was fascinated by the city and began to think about a career in international affairs. After getting her bachelor's from Dillard and her master's from Syracuse University, Marissa has been a U.S. Diplomat for the past 17 years, where she has served in Djibouti, the Dominican Republic, Algeria, Niger, Cabo Verde, and now South Africa.The Luard Morse program was the perfect opportunity for Marissa to see what her high school AP English teacher always called "the world out there." Click here to read more!

Radclyffe "Mike" Thompson

Radclyffe "Mike" Thompson, is from Philadelphia, PA. He went to Strathallan School in Scotland, in 1962-63 after attending St. George's School in Newport, Rhode Island. He graduated from University of Pennsylvania. Mike plays the clarinet and loves music. Mike served for 3 years in Vietnam and worked for over 30 years in sales and investments. His experience in the SSE program helped him to gain confidence in his skills to adapt to new situations.Mike says, "Anytime you move outside of your comfortable environment … you have to adapt. And suddenly finding yourself an ambassador to the United States was actually quite an interesting experience. And I think it may have helped me..."  Click here to read more!

Robert B. Semple - SSE

Robert B. Semple lives in New York City and attended the SSE program in 1954-55 at Wellington College. After SSE, he graduated from Yale, and then later received his master's degree in history from Berkeley. After running the student newspaper at Yale, Semple worked for over 50 years at The New York Times. He is known for his editorials on environmental issues, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1996. He was also a White House correspondent during Nixon's first term. Semple served as the London bureau chief for the New York Times for 3 years as well. He is very passionate about writing and ensuring the survival of written media. Semple was a prefect, or dormitory leader, during his time in the SSE program. Click here to read more. 

Bruce Thomson - Luard Morse

Our second Alumni Spotlight goes out to Bruce Thompson, who was a Luard Scholar in the class of 1977-78. Bruce currently serves as President of Hospitality Development Company, a hotel ownership, development and management group with properties in the Baltimore/Washington metro area. What he enjoys most about the work that he does is that it's challenging and new and different everyday. Especially in today's COVID-19 reality, navigating a travel-based business amidst a global pandemic has proven to be no small feat and has brought about its own unique obstacles. Nevertheless, Bruce is up for the challenge as he reminds us that adapting to, and overcoming hurdles is simply a part of life. Click here to read more. 

Langley Granbery - SSE

This week, we are highlighting Langley Granbery. Langley is from Nashville, Tennessee and has worked in financial services. In 1972-73, Langley attended the SSE program at the Felsted School in Essex County, England. He returned to his hometown for college and graduated from Vanderbilt University. During his year abroad, Langley played on the tennis team, took his English A-levels, and learned to love travel. Click here to read more. 

Marshall Rutter - SSE

This week we are highlighting Marshall Rutter, an SSE alum from Radley College in 1949. After SSE, he attended Amherst College in Massachusetts. He has practiced law in California for 16 years and been on the board and as an Emeritus member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale for more than half a century.He was President of the Board of the ESU in Los Angeles, where he shook the hand of Prince Charles. Click here to read more. 

Demetriouse Russel - Luard Morse

The first of our Luard Morse alumni spotlights goes out to Demetriouse Russell, who is an alumni of the Luard Morse program from the class of 1987-88. Demetriouse is currently the CEO of Venn Diagram Partners, LLC. Before arriving at his current role, Demetriouse bounced around from various jobs in different industries such as commercial banking, public service, and working with at risk youth in Boston and Israel.All of his experiences ultimately lead him to the work he does now which is management consulting targeted at customized leadership, DNI consulting, and executive coaching. Click here to read more. 

Brock Landry - SSE

Our first highlighted SSE alum, Brock Landry, attended the program in 1965, when the SSE program was boys-only and hitchhiking around Europe was a common form of weekend travel. Thank you so much to Brock Landry for sharing his experiences and advice to future SSE scholars. Brock Landry is an SSE alum from Virginia. He attended the SSE program at Fettes College in 1965. His experience studying abroad in the UK allowed him to step into a different lifestyle than in the schools where he'd grown up. He was in an intense academic program learning Russian, history, and economics. He also took up woodcarving, which he is still passionate about today. Landry learned Russian from a teacher who had been a British army interpreter. He majored in Russian studies when he returned from the SSE program. Click here to read more.