October 10, 2018

Keeping the Abbot legacy alive

A Q&A with new Abbot Academy Fund President Aisha Jorge Massengill ’88
by Jenny Savino P'21

Recently voted in for a one-year renewable term as the new president of the Abbot Academy Fund (AAF), Aisha Jorge Massengill comes prepared with a long list of Andover volunteer roles ranging from work on the Alumni Council Executive Committee and the Af-Lat-Am@50 Planning Committee to serving as the Class of 1988 Reunion chair and an Alumni Admission Representative.

An all-star athlete at Andover, Massengill was the first PA student to earn 12 varsity letters. A “double Eagle,” Massengill went on to earn a BA degree in English and a JD degree at Boston College, where she also played Division I softball as an undergraduate. Currently living in Columbia, Maryland, Massengill is the senior employment attorney for Under Armour and the mother of three boys. She maintains her hoop skills by taking part in the annual Todd Isaac Memorial Basketball Tournament in NYC.

Massengill, in pink, at the 2018 Todd Isaac Memorial Basketball Tournament in NYC

What will be your primary responsibility as the new president of the AAF? 

First let me say what an honor it is to have been selected to lead this body. It is a group of super-engaged, highly qualified, dedicated professionals who freely give of their time and talent. It’s a privilege to work alongside them. My primary responsibility will be as keeper of the Abbot flame—working to ensure that members of the AAF are guided by the legacy, traditions, and ideals of Abbot Academy in every decision that we make. This includes making sure that the proposals we support have broad impact here at PA and beyond, and that those programs/proposals foster collaboration amongst the students, faculty, and staff wherever and whenever possible. We are also mindful of the incredible support and partnership that we enjoy with Phillips Academy. Maintaining this relationship is critical to our success.

What would you like alumni to know about the Abbot Academy Fund? 

As alumni, we often get trapped in a time capsule where Andover only exists during the time that we attended. Being involved with the Abbot Academy Fund provides a wonderful connection from the past to today’s Andover. Also, the energy that these kids bring to their AAF proposals is a wonderful reminder of how Andover’s future, and the world beyond, is so bright!

Why have you continued to stay involved with Andover?

I don’t really even know where to begin. Andover is at the core of who I am. Nearly everything that I’ve been able to accomplish in life can be tied back to Andover in some way. So my service to Andover is the least that I can do to repay what it has done for me.

Who were some of your favorite Andover teachers and what were some of your favorite classes? 

Tom Oden who taught English 10 as a teaching fellow, was wonderfully creative. We once had a class in the graveyard while studying the classics! Loved Mr. Gurry in history. Likewise, Mr. Rogers in history was a difficult task master who taught me one of life’s great lessons: Sometimes giving a good effort isn’t enough. You have to combine effort with preparation and good sense. He didn’t allow for any foolishness, and I loved him dearly.

If you were a student or a teacher at PA today, what proposal would you put forward to the Abbot Academy Fund? 

Most of what I would have wanted has been fulfilled: an Uber/Lyft type service that either delivered me places or delivered food to me and my friends! Besides that, I would propose any project that fosters connectivity between disparate groups without sacrificing one’s core identity.

To me, non sibi means loving Andover so much that you put aside all the things that make you different to become galvanized around a singular selfless purpose.

Aisha Jorge Massengill ’88 Abbot Academy Fund President

[footnote]

If stranded on an island, Massengill says she'd take "an iPad loaded with books and a heck of a backup battery. And bug repellant. My blood type makes me a magnet for bites. And Brody, my pup. He’s not an item, but I’d want him with me."

If you could invite any three PA teachers or staff—current or past, to dinner—who would it be and what would you discuss? 

I would have loved to have sat down with Jeanne McKee, an admission’s officer at the time, and simply asked her: What did you see in me when you met me all those years ago in the Bronx that made you believe I could make it at Andover? Don McNemar, former Head of School, always had a smile on his face even though he had to see Andover through some pretty tough times, like pressure to divest from South Africa and the racial tensions at Andover. Lastly the combo of Blaine and Paulino, (Blaine was the athletic equipment manager and Paulino is still at PA working on the janitorial staff) I would just like to sit down and buy them dinner. They were always so good to us. I ran into Paulino during the Abbot board’s first tour of the Sykes Center and he recognized me! Nearly 30 years had gone by and he recognized me!

Finish this sentence: You know you graduated from Andover in the 1980s because … 

Ha! You know you were there in the 80’s when you watched Prince in Purple Rain and danced the "Time Warp" during The Rocky Horror Picture Show in G.W.

What’s your favorite PA memory or tradition?

For me, whether it was competing or watching, I lived for Andover-Exeter.

Is there anything about Andover that continues to surprise you? 

Nope. For me, Andover represents infinite possibilities. So, if it’s happening there, I wouldn’t expect anything less.



The Abbot Academy Fund provides monetary support for members of the Andover community to develop projects and programs consistent with the traditions and ideals of Abbot Academy. Since the first grant was awarded in 1973, there have been more than 1,500 proposals accepted and nearly $11 million distributed.

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