In the Spring of 2021, Macaila, then a grade 9 student, volunteered to write thank you notes to donors who had contributed to the Elmwood Fund, the school’s annual giving campaign. Macaila’s thank you note was addressed to Nila Varan-Matthews from the Class of 1989 and spoke of how the donor’s contribution helped establish the Elmwood Mentorship Program, which links Elmwood alumni with current students. Macaila expressed her gratitude and excitement for the program, writing, “I am looking forward to participating in the new mentorship program and connecting with alumni to hear about their business careers. One day I hope to be a businesswoman, so this program will be a huge help”. 

These words resonated with Nila– an award-winning real estate agent and a successful businesswoman in her own right. Nila reached out to Andrea Thomson, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, to express her delight in the note and invited Macaila and a friend to meet. With mentorship in mind, Nila wanted to speak with Macaila about her career aspirations, possible fields of study, and the connections that can be made through the Elmwood network of Old Girls and alumni. 

On a sunny November afternoon, Nila, Macaila, and fellow classmate Rouge, met to do just that. They spoke about Elmwood, their shared experiences and how they both appreciate the School. Nila, whose professional network of clients and partners includes many Elmwood alumni and other members of the school’s community, talked about the impact these connections have made on her career and credits the strong bond to the School with the beginning and exponential growth of her career. 

For Macaila and Rouge, this conversation opened their eyes to the connections they’ll make through Elmwood and the opportunities these will bring to their future studies and careers. For Nila, this meeting was a chance to share her experience, give personal and professional advice, and stay involved in the school. It’s a win-win for students and alumni alike.  

To get involved with Elmwood’s Mentorship program, be sure to register for ElmwoodConnect, the dedicated networking and mentorship platform for Elmwood Old Girls and Alumni. Opportunities to work with current students and how to participate in future career workshops and seminars will be posted regularly on ElmwoodConnect.

Nila Varan-Matthews '89 was the Head of Fry and graduated from Elmwood in 1989. She is a Residential Real Estate Sales Representative with Coldwell Banker Rhodes & Company, Brokerage and recipient of the International President's Circle Award in 2020 and 2021.

Macaila McMahon is a grade 10 student and hopes to pursue a career in business. 

Rouge Abboud is a grade 10 student and hopes to pursue a career in the health sciences.