Every student that walks through the corridors of St. Thomas School embarks on a journey of discovery, growth, and profound learning. One such journey, uniquely marked by an insatiable curiosity and a passion for understanding the past, is that of Daphne Sinclaire Myhrvold '11, whose path has led to the fascinating world of archaeology in Egypt. Her narrative weaves a story of enduring connections, relentless pursuit of knowledge, and the invaluable skills gleaned from the enriching environment at St. Thomas School.
Fostering Confidence and Communication Skills
Daphne is an STS “lifer” having started in 2-day preschool and graduating from sixth grade in 2011 prior to the school’s expansion to seventh and eighth grades.
A dedicated and curious student from her very first years at St. Thomas School, Daphne admitted to being a quiet child with a fear of public speaking. She credits the nurturing environment and numerous presentation opportunities at STS with helping her overcome this fear and develop the confidence that helped her excel in high school, college, graduate school, and her professional journey.
Journey to Higher Education
After leaving St. Thomas School, Daphne continued her education at The Lakeside School in Seattle followed by an undergraduate program at UCLA. There, she pursued a double major in anthropology and geography, and a minor in Latin—a subject she began studying at STS. “I just found it [Latin] so interesting, and with that foundation by the time I got to college I could read ancient plays, and letters written by Caesar.”
Daphne’s pursuit of knowledge didn’t stop there; she went on to explore sustainable cultural heritage for her master’s degree at The American University of Rome. While there, she focused on understanding the delicate balance between heritage conservation and public access, a subject driven by her concern for climate change and its impact on historic sites, buildings, and other artifacts.
Archaeological Adventure in Egypt
Daphne’s passion for archaeology was ignited at the early age of eight during a family trip to Egypt where they toured sites with renowned archaeologist Mark Lehner.
Upon returning to STS, Daphne recalls giving a chapel presentation along with her younger sisters about their trip. Not long after, Lehner was in the Seattle area and graciously visited St. Thomas School, giving his own presentation to students in Chapel.
The connection with Lehner endured over the years. When he learned Daphne was studying in Rome, Lehner encouraged her to return to Egypt and the Giza Plateau, visiting the same archaeological site she toured 16 years prior. The visit led to volunteer opportunities and eventually a job working with Lehner on his excavation of the ‘Lost City of the Pyramids.’
Her typical days are brimming with early morning excavations where she and her team frequently discover pottery fragments, stone tools, bones, and other artifacts.
“You’ve got your trowel and your big shovels. You’re in the dirt all day,” says Daphne. “It is super fun!”
As the sun peaks, her focus shifts to meticulous paperwork, ensuring that every discovery is well-documented. The day wraps up with a shared evening meal among her colleagues, creating an atmosphere that, Daphne says with a chuckle, “is a bit like summer camp.”
Reflecting on her Journey
Reflecting on her journey, Daphne attributes much of her success to the values and character development she received at STS. The school’s core virtues – taught in chapel and emphasized by Dr. Wheeler and others – helped mold her into a confident, creative, and adventurous individual, a deep thinker with insatiable curiosity about the world around her.
It is not only the academic teachings that have stayed with her but also the lasting friendships formed within the walls of St. Thomas School.
Daphne took to Instagram last November, posting side-by-side photos that depicted a young version of herself at the archaeological site in Egypt alongside a recent photo with her archaeological mentor. The caption expressed her disbelief at having the opportunity to return to Egypt and work alongside a team that she had once merely dreamt about.
In the comments she received from her St. Thomas School classmates, many reminisced about her childhood passion, recalling her Egypt presentation in Chapel and her regular visits to the school library to check out books about the ancient civilization. Despite the time and distance that had separated many of them, they were there to applaud her success and celebrate the realization of her dream.
Valuable Advice for Current Students
Daphne’s advice to the current students of St. Thomas resonates with her life’s philosophy, urging them to “Try everything.” It is this openness to experiences and the courage to step into the unknown that led her to her college degrees, a graduate program in Rome, and eventually her job in Egypt.
Drawing inspiration from a talk by one of the heads of the Smithsonian, she emphasized diligently pursuing one’s interest, “You might not end up where you thought you'd be, but you'll end up somewhere interesting.”