Erickson, Haroldo, and mom
September 15, 2022

My Andover family, full circle

Alumna Pays it Forward
by Christina Erickson ’88, P’19

The classmates, faculty, and friends who make up my Andover family have been a gift since the day I stepped onto campus. There are two members of that family who hold special significance, and my friendship with each of them began far away from the school that now ties us together.

I first met John J. Ryan III ’45 in the winter of 1985 in Geneva, Switzerland. John was an alumni admission representative—AAR for short—and I was an American Field Service exchange student checking one last box on my Andover application while trying to keep up with the rigorous French curriculum in the Swiss public high school hosting me for the year.

This was a time before virtual tours had taken hold. John was the only data point I had on a school on the receiving end of my handwritten application. His enthusiasm for Andover was palpable and it transformed John’s trajectory, as it would mine. I was accepted to Andover and benefited from its need-blind admission policy, a program that allowed me to choose Andover over its peer schools.

When sponsorship was required to participate in The Dakar Project—a program focused on the historical preservation of the 16 million enslaved Africans who transited through Gorée Island—John underwrote my service trip. When I was admitted to Yale College while in Senegal, John was one of the first people with whom I shared my news. A congratulatory telegram arrived from Geneva on graduation day. I keep it alongside my diploma.

Erickson with her mentor John Ryan III '45. Above, Haroldo Nesbeth '17, with his mother at left and Erickson at right. (Submitted Photos)

Eventually, I became an AAR myself and met Haroldo Nesbeth ’17, a talented young wrestler from Santa Monica, California. Haroldo found my name on the AAR website and called me just a few days before the final application deadline, a situation that I imagine was very similar to the call John received to interview me. Navigating the process largely by himself, it became clear as I interviewed Haroldo that Andover would have the power to change his life, as it had mine, and John’s. Thankfully, Andover’s Admissions Office agreed with my recommendation.

Recipient of the MacMillan Scholarship, Haroldo brought to campus his intellectual curiosity, wrestling chops, and years of choral experience; he made the most of his PG year. Haroldo also became a part of my immediate family—an older brother to my own kids.

In May 2017, I visited with John and his wife, Jacqueline. John knew I had become an AAR, and I shared my hope that he would someday meet Haroldo. John was subsequently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. That was the last time we met in person; he passed away January 1, 2022.

I recently gathered with John’s extended family at his memorial. Some I had met, many I had not. They welcomed me warmly. Those I had not met already knew of me and of our friendship. It came full circle in that moment; I now stood as their bridge to John’s Andover experience, just as he was the bridge to my own—a bridge I like to think now extends to Haroldo.


After Andover, Christina Erickson ’88, P’19 earned a degree from Harvard Law School. Her legal work focuses on the structuring, formation, and ongoing management of alternative investment vehicles for an established investment manager. While raising a family, Erickson took a break from legal practice to work on environmental, social, and governance criteria matters to advocate for better solutions to climate crisis.

Categories: Alumni, Magazine, Magazine Online

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