An unparalleled start

Alex D'Amico Landon School

Alex D'Amico '96 (pictured above with his wife Maggie and son Hamilton) wrote this blog post about how the diversity of his experience at Landon prepared him for life afterward. After graduating from Princeton University in 2000, he served four years (2000–04) in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was part of the First Marine division in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 2007 and is now a partner at McKinsey & Company, a leading global consulting management firm.

The thing I truly valued about my time at Landon was the diversity of what I was able to do at the school: I did three varsity sports starting my junior year, I was very into art, and the academics at Landon were outstanding.

When I arrived at Princeton and was with students from major private schools in the D.C. area and across the country, the thing that struck me the most was that I was better prepared for college than any of my Princeton classmates. I was better prepared by virtue of the schedule at Landon, with required athletics and the full days that entailed. It instilled discipline in me in a way that many of my college classmates didn't have.

The other thing that Landon taught me was the value of individual effort within the context of a team. That certainly informed my decision to join the Marine Corps after college. The sense of fraternity and integrity within the Marine Corps was very similar to what I experienced at Landon, and something I really valued.

Landon really emphasized hard work and discipline, which are things I still value today. There is something in this world around sweat equity that is often overlooked, and I learned that from Landon. Rigor and preparation are incredibly important.

That extended to the arts. Austin Zimmer was the Upper School art teacher. I was into ceramics, and Austin encouraged me to experiment in a lot of different things. My junior year, I spent the summer at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and it was a great opportunity to see what art school would be like. It helped me make an informed decision to not go to art school. I never would have done that were it not for the investment that Austin made in me. (Teachers) Steve Sorkin and Bob Condit certainly had a significant impact on my life as well.

Athletically, I did soccer, swimming and baseball, and then senior year traded baseball for track. I was on It's Academic (quiz show team) as well, which was a lot of fun, and I edited the school newspaper. And I loved it all. At times I was a little bit like the kid in the movie Rushmore.

Landon is an incredible asset in my life. It's a lifelong relationship. Just to be able to come back to campus when we're in town and go running with my wife Maggie is great. It's a real treasure.

My advice to the Landon students of today is: try everything. The school has incredibly high-quality opportunities in the classroom, on the athletics fields, in the arts — you have the chance to get exposure to a lot of different things. Take it.