Chris DiPentima, TMA Class of '86
As the first student officially accepted into Talcott Mountain Academy-- Chris DiPentima has always been blazing new trails: first, as a student in one of the earliest classes at TMA; and today, as a leader for business and industry throughout the state.
Among many distinctions and honors, Chris has been named the sixth most influential leader for 2023 by the Hartford Business Journal. He also holds a seat on Governor Lamont's 23-person panel to develop a long term strategy for addressing Connecticut's childcare crisis.
Recently, Chris took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to reflect on his time at Talcott -- including his favorite memories, how his Talcott experience impacted him and ultimately, how it influenced him personally and professionally.
Q. What is your favorite/fondest memory of your time at Talcott?
A. Being the first student accepted and being among the first classes at TMA, there were some many new things that we were part of that left many fond memories. Those firsts included observing Halley's Comet while Newsweek interviewed and photographed us, winning a John Cafferty concert, weekend sleep studies, building the first athletic field, student council elections, talent shows, dances, and arranging our class rooms for the best learning environment.
Q. Did Talcott have a positive influence on you personally?
A. Yes. Since our class was one of the trailblazers, it made me think about how I wanted the school to look and operate, and how to collaborate with other students in making these decisions. This was also the first experience I had with making impactful decisions, including ones that required taking some risk because we did not have clear precedents or data to guide us.
Q. Did your experience at Talcott influence your career trajectory/choices? If so, how?
A. The positive influences above were likely the beginning of the entrepreneur and leadership traits that would eventually lead me to lead businesses in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, including owning some. The roundedness of having the science and math strengths developed at Talcott with a BA degree from Boston College also made me OK with not having a straight line career path as I went from litigation attorney to manufacturing executive to non-profit leader - very much enjoying each one of those unique careers and never thinking that I would move from one to another.
Q. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your Talcott-era self? To current students?
A. That life and careers do not have to be a straight path. It is OK not knowing what you want to do as long as you are moving forward by learning -- whether in school or on the job. My very career path has been very rewarding and satisfying and while each job seems very different from the prior ones, they are also very interconnected.
OTHER TALCOTT ALUMNI:
Prof. Kerri Cahoy--Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Co-director, Small Satellite Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Chris DiPentima--President, Connecticut Business & Industry Association
Dr. Eric Fossum--"I went to Talcott Mountain, Trinity College and Yale University--and Talcott was as important to my education as either of those other two."
Dr. Linda Ivany--"The experiences that I had [at Talcott] were invaluable to me as a fledgling scientist and as a person. The Science Center is a true jewel among educational institutions for the many unique opportunities it provides for students everywhere."
Dr. Greg Kochanski--"It all started with you, George (George Atamian, former TMSC Associate Director and co-founder), chasing comets at Talcott Mountain Science Center."
Steve Perlman--"It's the only place that I really fit into. It's the only place that could keep up with me and I could keep up with it."
Guy Simonian--"Founder Don La Salle inspired me to take on challenging assignments and excel in their execution. The goal, of course, was to deliver science education to curious young minds through organized interactive hands-on activities."
Neil Theise--Physician/Scientist; Professor of Pathology, NYU Grossman School of Medicine--"TMSC was my nerdy kid happy place, where I could fully be myself, hanging out with other kids who had the same quirky interests and, most importantly, with teachers who made me believe that, literally, the sky was the limit."