Corinne Rocca ’89

As an epidemiologist and Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, Corinne researches the many facets of pregnancy and contraception around the world.

She has also examined abortion access and effects in the United States and in Nepal in order to bring well-researched, scientific data to the political discussion and standards of care. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Stanford University, she went on to Columbia University for her master’s in public health, and then came back to the Bay Area for her Ph.D. in epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley. She and her family live in San Francisco.

What is your favorite memory from Burke’s?
Certainly the amazing teachers, strong academics, and the fostering of students’ creativity and athleticism are cornerstone memories of my time at Burke’s. My favorite memories, however, stem from the wonderful, lifelong friendships started there. To this day, my dearest friends are the strong and loving women I met there as a child. I remember reading together in the old library’s “pit”; creating and modeling fashions together in the sewing room; encouraging one another on crosscountry team runs out to Lands End. And, I remember sneaking behind the tennis courts and piercing one another’s ears (the misplaced holes remain, unfortunately!). Burke’s girls were and are still who I rely on to support me through hard times, and also with whom I laugh the most. A Burke’s girl was with me when I gave birth to my son, and I even met my partner at a Burke’s girl’s wedding. Thirty years after graduating, the memories I make now are still frequently rooted in my Burke’s experience.

What is something you learned at Burke’s that you still carry with you today?
The lyrics of some of the songs our Burke’s teachers wrote to help us remember the material they were teaching remain embedded in my memory decades later. To make learning the Greek gods fun, Ms. Barton (fifth grade) wrote a song to the tune of “Jamaica Farewell” with lines including “Hephaestus forges lovely gifts for Aphrodite his wife, the goddess of love…” which she sang while strumming her guitar. Also forever etched into my brain is Mrs. Reb’s (Upper School Science) repetitive chant: “Xylem takes the water up, phloem brings the food down…” And anyone at Burke’s in the ’80s will remember Ms. Cameron’s (first grade) “Baby wants a cake, ay, ay, ay…” lyrics, designed to be sung while playing on a minipiano and to instill an understanding of long and short vowels.
What Burke’s experiences do you attribute to your personal or professional success?
Over nine years in green plaid and blue middies, I learned everything from addition to calculus, spelling to essay writing, from observing to the scientific method. Burke’s taught me to question what seems obvious, to try new ways to approach problems, and that the thrill of success can sometimes only be felt after weeks or months of effort. Burke’s inspired me to choose a career in women’s reproductive health research, where I investigate the social causes of unintended pregnancy and how pregnancy affects women’s lives. Driven by the fundamental belief that the best way to change the world is to invest in and empower young women, I believe there is no more fundamental way to do that than to help them decide whether, when, and with whom to have their own children. Burke’s instilled in me a love of learning and the scientific method, and a sense of self-efficacy and responsibility toward my community and world.
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.


An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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