Dr. Melissa Wachterman ’96 and Dr. Benjamin Sommers ’96 met at Country Day in eighth grade.
“I remember going out with him on a date and thinking ‘I’m taller than him’,” said Wachterman. They officially began dating their senior year at CCDS and have since married and welcomed two sons into the world.
Melissa and Ben credit much of their success to the time they spent at Country Day and the amazing experiences they shared on campus. “I still find myself thinking of things Mr. Black would say in history class,” said Wachterman. “I remember Mrs. Butler always being a strong female role model, encouraging and helping me develop into my own.”
In January, Ben was appointed by President Biden as Deputy Assistant Secretary for health policy in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Before that, he was a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Ben has received numerous awards including the Health Services Research Impact Award and the Article-of-the Year Award from AcademyHealth, and he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2019. Ben found his niche for public policy during his time at Country Day. “I remember being fascinated by Doc [Nancy] Fogelson’s class on U.S. history,” said Sommers. “She taught us not only how to think about public policy, but also how to write about policy.”
Melissa attended Haverford College and was drawn there by their honor code and student-led values, similar to CCDS. She then attended medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine where she received her Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health degree, as well as a Master of Science degree from Harvard School of Public Health. She is now a palliative care doctor and professor at Harvard Medical School. Her passion and career are centered around caring for seriously ill older adults. “Country Day cared for its students and ultimately played a part in my career choice where I felt like I could take care of people holistically.”
Ben is grateful for all the teachers that shaped his time at CCDS. “Mr. Black, the Dunns, Mr. Patterson, and Mr. Anders all come to mind when I think of the amazing faculty at CCDS that impacted my career.”
Ben attended Princeton University for his undergraduate degree in English and minor degree in Jewish studies. He received both his Doctor of Philosophy in health policy and his Doctor of Medicine from Harvard.
Ben’s message to the current students at CCDS is, “You never know what part of your education is going to matter in your future career. Take advantage of everything at Country Day because you never know what role it may play down the road. The hard work really does pay off!”
“Country Day means so much to us,” agreed Wachterman and Sommers. “We found each other and some of our closest friends there. Even during the pandemic, we would meet with our closest friends from Country Day virtually and play board games together. Country Day is a special place.”
Ben and Melissa reside in Brookline, Massachusetts, but plan to move to Washington, D.C. this summer as he transitions into his new role.