When Lindsey Davis ’00 and Courtney Feldheim ’99 bumped into each other on the street over a decade after graduation, they could not have imagined their chance encounter would lead them on a journey back to Bryn Mawr...with boxing gloves.

After graduation, Davis earned a degree in political science from the University of Vermont, and went on to earn her master’s in public administration and city planning from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Feldheim attended Franklin and Marshall College where she majored in math and computer science before coming back to Baltimore to earn her master’s in education from Towson University.

In 2010, Davis moved back to Baltimore and eventually began teaching a graduate-level entrepreneurial leadership course at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). As the semester went on, Davis says she realized her students were missing something. “I realized that we needed to go back a few steps because although they were incredibly accomplished entrepreneurs, they were lacking self-confidence and awareness, and couldn’t be effective leaders until they knew more about themselves,” said Davis. “A person has to be empowered and know his or her self before they can impact others.”

While she was grappling with how to help her students gain confidence and become more self-aware, Davis recalled her run-in with Feldheim a few months earlier and decided that maybe it was for a reason. “I just called Courtney and remember saying, ‘I need you to listen to me for five minutes.’ Somehow after not seeing each other for over a decade, she was the first person on my brain,” Davis recalled. She told Feldheim about her class, and that she felt she needed to create a type of leadership training that focused on teaching self-awareness and confidence by using a tactical skill such as boxing, something that Feldheim knew a lot about.

Feldheim was a sixth grade math teacher for many years, but after she discovered boxing, she made the switch from teaching fractions to punches full time. Feldheim is now a certified personal trainer, boxing coach, and also teaches self-defense workshops. She says she was excited by Davis’ idea. “So many of the values were connected to successful performance, whether that performance was in a ring or in a professional setting.” Davis says that hearing Feldheim talk about teaching self-defense was her lightbulb moment. “I realized nobody in my life had ever talked about self-offense, just defense, so PowerThroughBoxing was born as a way to teach that empowerment using a tactical skill,” Davis said.

Once they came up with the idea, Davis and Feldheim knew that Bryn Mawr was the place to pilot the program since they were once in the students’ shoes. “We knew it would be a great opportunity to give back in a very different and tangible way to a place that gave us so much,” said Davis. In February of 2018, Feldheim and Davis returned to Bryn Mawr to teach PowerThrough[Boxing] as an after-school opportunity for Upper School students.

Through a combination of boxing lessons taught by Feldheim and lectures and activities led by Davis, the program focuses on teaching students how to manage stress, communicate effectively, become more confident and bounce back from failure. “I feel like each individual has a secret weapon,” said Davis. “We all have something we are really good at, and by identifying and tapping into that secret weapon, we are able to be strong in situations where we feel like the odds are against us.”
 
Banner: Bryn Mawr students try on their gloves during a PowerThrough[Boxing] workshop.
Above: Feldheim leads students in sparring drills.

Below: Davis teaches students how to empowered themselves by using communication effectively.
Davis has since expanded the idea for the PowerThrough[Boxing] workshop into a company called PowerThrough[That]. The organization uses different forms of experiential learning such as Yoga, FloYo and Photography to teach empowerment. Davis teaches the life skills segments of the course, while a professional counterpart, like Feldheim, from the chosen theme teaches the experiential portion. Davis tailors the workshops to the specific needs of each client.

At the end of the six-week course, Bryn Mawr students reviewed the program and their responses were overwhelmingly positive. With comments like, “I actually boxed! Like legit!” and “This was amazing and should happen again,” students said they came out of the course feeling stronger, more confident, and better equipped to handle a variety of unexpected situations. Davis says that she and Feldheim are glad they were able to bring PowerThrough[Boxing] to Bryn Mawr, “I’m so glad it paid off for the girls and they learned what we hoped they would. I’m just floored by how responsive the students have been and grateful to Ms. Summers and Ms. Budzik for trusting us, it’s a huge leap of faith.”

Davis and Feldheim also say they are grateful to Bryn Mawr for helping shape them into who they are today, and for giving them a friendship that has stood the test of time. “In truth, I didn’t realize a lot of the things I learned or valued until after I left, but Bryn Mawr helped me feel capable, which I value more than anything else, and like I could lead a life that mattered,” said Davis.

Feldheim echoed Davis saying, “I’ve learned to appreciate Bryn Mawr more and more after graduating. The friendships and connections made at Bryn Mawr have lasted 20 years past graduation and have stayed strong!”
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, The Bryn Mawr School is a private all-girls kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school with a coed preschool for ages 2 months through 5 years. Bryn Mawr provides students with exceptional educational opportunities on a beautiful 26-acre campus within the city limits. Inquisitive girls, excellent teaching, strong student-teacher relationships and a clear mission sustain our vibrant school community where girls always come first.