You might say that Darlington was Katharine (French) Flory’s (’82, LD '20) window to the world. After a transformative three-year boarding experience, she went on to study abroad in college, travel extensively, and forge a successful 30+-year career for a large bio-pharmaceutical company with a global presence.
“My Darlington experience lives with me every day,” she said. “Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I appreciate how the education, experiences, friendships, and opportunities gained at Darlington were the catalysts for my future. The educational experience Darlington provided opened so many doors for me and allowed me to be the person I am today. I am so thankful that I attended Darlington. The impact it had on my life has been extraordinary. I love that literally, you can be anywhere and have a Darlington connection.”
Flory and her best friend Charlotte (Rushin) Gunby (’83), enrolled at Darlington as sophomores in search of adventure, independence, and opportunity. A resident of the now-razed Trippeer Dorm, she got up early every weekday to take attendance at breakfast and spent a lot of time in the Zelle darkroom developing film for the Jabberwokk. Her three years as a student were prime preparation for college, while including plenty of fun and friendships that would stand the test of time.
“When I arrived as a freshman at Hollins University, I was way ahead of the game as far as dormitory life and the academic responsibilities required of a new college student,” said Flory, who would go on to work in London and Washington, D.C., before settling down with her husband, John, in their current home city of Columbus, Ga.
The couple would have four children – a son and triplet girls – and Flory was thrilled when one of her daughters, Kate (’17), decided she wanted to be a boarding student at Darlington. She enrolled in ninth grade and took advantage of all the school has to offer, even becoming managing editor of her mother’s favorite student involvement, the Jabberwokk.
“Kate had heard about Darlington all of her life and, like me, was excited to take her educational experience to another level,” said Flory, who works in access and reimbursement for AbbVie’s immunology division. “Darlington had grown in so many ways from the early 1980s. The opportunities available to Kate were exponential – educational, leadership, athletic, college counseling, and extracurricular. I am very grateful for the experience Kate had and thankful that she chose to expand on my footsteps at Darlington!”
Since Kate’s graduation from Darlington in 2017, Flory has become even more involved with the school through the Leadership Darlington program and as a member of the Board of Trustees.
“Appreciating my own Darlington experience and my daughter’s as well has made me very passionate about giving back to the school,” she said. “I am very humbled and honored to serve [as a trustee] and have an impact on the direction of Darlington’s future, which is very bright!”
Again following in her mother’s footsteps, Kate stays connected to the school as an active member of the Young Alumni Council. She even served as chair of Giving Day in February.
“What I have loved and will always love about Darlington is its continued focus on the students and always striving to improve student opportunities and experiences,” said Flory. “I am so thankful for my own experience and Kate’s experience. I contribute because I want the school to continue to grow and offer opportunities above and beyond for the students. It’s vitally important for alumni to stay engaged because each of us has a part of us that is because of our Darlington experience. It would be wonderful if everyone would give back just a little bit – what a difference it would make for the school.”