Alumni Spotlight – Max Barksdale, Class of 2011

Alumni Spotlight – Max Barksdale, Class of 2011

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Alumni Spotlight – Max Barksdale, Class of 2011
March 12, 2024

“Oliverian saved my life.” With these words, we began a phenomenal journey down memory lane with Class of ‘11 graduate, Max Barksdale.

As a dual citizen of The United States and Germany, Max lived an adventurous childhood, spending up to half a year at a time in Germany, and the rest living all across the East Coast of the US, even living at sea with his father for a time. Although this offered quite the cultural education, he always felt he could improve and develop his social skills. After years of being homeschooled, Max advocated to attend school in person, and found himself in a very traditional New England boarding school. Max was an excellent student, but found himself struggling with his identity, his social skills, and how he fit into his milieu. Determined to find his right place, Max and his family toured Oliverian, and the rest is history.

Max recalls feeling right at home when visiting Oli, having visited the campus once before for a summer program prior to the school’s founding. Having a hands-on academic approach was exactly what Max needed, fondly sharing about Abby Hood’s chemistry class visiting the river to collect samples for a lesson. This not only allowed him to flourish academically, accommodating his differing learning needs, but also a chance to bond with fellow students and develop his social emotional skills. Max also shared that when he did find himself working through areas of growth, Oli folks like John Doyle, Bessa Axelrod, and Jay Destroismaisons helped him feel a sense of purpose, be it stacking cords of wood with FJ, or developing his love of cooking as he processed his words and actions. As our first official four-year student, Max felt wholeheartedly the ability of Oliverian to meet each student where they are at and help them find their place in the world.

After Oliverian, Max attended Marlboro College in Vermont. He credits Peter Stevens with helping him find this next home after Oli, spending hours with him scouring through college resource books. At Marlboro, Max studied international relations, interning in government offices all over the world. He also worked as a student in the kitchen during his studies, further developing his love of cooking and catering. Upon graduation, he followed his passion for cooking to New Orleans where he experienced the best and worst of Bourbon Street. He chose to leave the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter behind to return to Marlboro College and manage their catering services and has since built a successful career in food service industry via catering management and consulting, and revamping food service operations for each of his clients and employers. Most recently, Max has moved to Germany to be nearer to family and take on a role at the Upper Franconian Student Union a government department based at the local university working in the culinary department; he will be focusing on catering and the logistics behind feeding up to 12,000 people. He additionally has plans to begin at a boutique restaurant in Germany’s Hotel Residenzschloss located in a beautiful old palace in Bamberg starting in the fall.

It has been such a pleasure reconnecting with our alums through our Alumni Spotlight initiative. We cannot thank each and every one of our alums enough for sharing their stories with our greater community and making Oliverian School who we are today. 

Germany’s Hotel Residenzschloss