There was little question that Therese Quinn would attend a Montessori school as a child: it’s practically in her blood. Her grandparents founded a Montessori school in Media, Pennsylvania, and her mother, Michele LeFever Quinn, is a longtime WMS advisory board member as well as a former staff and board member. “Montessori is definitely surrounding me and my family,” she said.
Family connections aside, Therese credits her Montessori education for allowing her to learn at her own pace and explore a variety subjects, which ultimately helped her discover her interests and strengths. She also benefited from the multi-age classroom, where she was eager to learn from her peers.
She attended WMS from preschool through sixth grade, and fondly remembers former WMS teacher Helen Gadsby’s plays in the 9-12 classroom and learning songs about grammar and long division (which she can still recite) in former teachers Natalie and Christa’s third- and fourth-grade classroom. During those years, math and science emerged as her favorite subjects.
“I loved Helen's plays!,” she said. “Despite being more the math/science type now, I loved being one of the stars of the shows we put on twice a year.”
After WMS, Therese went on to attend middle school and high school at Wilmington Friends School, where she enjoyed playing volleyball and basketball. By the time she graduated, she already had her sights set on a career in engineering.
“I always loved math and science,” she said. “I was naturally good at those fields and really enjoyed them. I also loved to problem-solve. With my Dad being an engineer, I learned about that type of career early and it just made perfect sense for me.”
Enticed by both the campus and the bioengineering program, Therese enrolled at Lehigh University as a bioengineering major with a pharmaceutical specialization.
“I knew I wanted to go to school for engineering and when I visited Lehigh, I fell in love with the campus and learned for the first time about the bioengineering program (which was relatively new at the time),” she said. “It seemed like the perfect fit of focusing on health with the engineering element.”
After graduating from Lehigh, Therese joined Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine division of the pharmaceutical company Sanofi. She started in a rotation program, which allowed her to see a variety of different areas of what it takes to manufacture vaccines. Nine years later, she still works at Sanofi Pasteur, where she currently serves as the CMC Leader for new vaccines and oversees the chemistry, manufacturing and control aspects of new vaccine development. She also earned her master’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering from Lehigh in 2017.
When she’s not working, Therese is busy fixing up her new home. She recently bought her first house in Hellertown, Pennsylvania, and is “learning a lot of the wonders and pain of home ownership,” she said.