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Emma Willard School Holds 203rd Commencement

Emma Willard School honored the Class of 2017 at our 203rd Commencement on Sunday, June 4. Families and friends gathered on the academic quad to join the Emma community in celebration of our 101 graduates.
Emma Willard School honored the Class of 2017 at our 203rd Commencement on Sunday, June 4. Families and friends gathered on the academic quad to join the Emma community in celebration of our 101 graduates.

Interim Head of School Dr. Susan R. Groesbeck opened the ceremony with warm words of welcome. She asked everyone to consider the school’s motto “Gaudet patientia duris”—patience rejoices in adversity.

"In mainstream culture, there is not so much of a “bring on the challenge!” when it comes to intellectual or social challenges.  However, in Emma students, I see a great deal of “bring on the challenge!”—joyfully conveyed.  They love an intellectual challenge; they love the process of working through it, and the self-esteem that comes from that work.  I see this as a very fitting motto for our students,” she said.
After wishing the class happiness as they embark on the next chapter of their lives, Dr. Groesbeck welcomed Joel Stein, an American journalist and regular contributor to Time Magazine, to deliver his witty and humorous address Mansplaining Your Future.

The audience laughed and cheered as Mr. Stein shared his experience with getting started as a writer, and how he arrived there by taking a different path than he’d anticipated. He commended the girls on graduating and encouraged them not consider the many different paths presented to them moving forward.
Lisa Allen LeFort ’72, chair of the board of trustees, then took the stage next to present this year’s Jameson Adkins Baxter Award to Samantha T. for her enthusiastic contributions in class, continuous persistence, willingness to try new things, and effective leadership.

Samantha Jones ’92, president of the alumnae association council, followed with the presentation of the Clementine Miller Tangeman Award to Hannah L., president of the Class of 2017, for her “appetite for learning, willingness to take risks, and impressive self-motivation.”

Next to the stage was Fahima A., the class’ selected senior speaker. She thanked her class—an “exceptionally unique class”—for embracing her and for the experiences they shared together.

Before concluding her moving speech, Fahima left her classmates with these final words:
"Dear Class of 2017, each one of you has created a unique rainbow in my cloud and I am forever grateful for getting to know you. We are going to head off in different directions today, but that does not mean that we will leave each other’s lives. We will continue to see each other in the powerful work we continue to do every day. Young ladies, live life to the fullest because you deserve it and remember that the world is awaiting you and your fierce attitudes."

With the crowd feeling emotional and inspired, Dr. Groesbeck and Ms. LeFort conferred the diplomas. Once each girl was called to and returned from the stage, the entire community came together to sing the Alma Mater together one last time.

Finally, Ms. Biggins took the stage to share some words of farewell—both to the Class of 2017 and to Emma Willard School as a whole—as she prepares to retire.

She described her biggest moment during her tenue which occurred during the school’s Bicentennial, back when the Class of 2017 were freshmen. 
“It wasn’t the tents or the food or the music, but it happened during the fireworks at the end of the night.  While standing on the hill and watching them with many of you, I realized at that moment that it is not Slocum or Sage, nor the Library or the Chapel that define Emma Willard School. It is each of us that walk through the inner campus going to classes every day, to meet a friend or just to chill on the Senior Triangle.”
These words, speaking to the power of community, were the perfect ending to a wonderful ceremony.

We will miss the Class of 2017 here on Mount Ida, but we know they will go on to serve and shape their worlds in ways that they can only imagine. 

    • The long white line makes its way through the quad at Commencement 2017

    • Dr. Groesbeck speaks to the Class of 2017

    • Samantha T. accepting this year's Jameson Adkins Baxter Award

    • Hannah L. accepting this year's Clementine Miller Tangeman Award

    • Senior speaker Fahima A. addresses her class one final time

    • Ms. Gerri Biggins says farewell to the Class of 2017 and Emma Willard School


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Honoring its founder’s vision, Emma Willard School proudly fosters in each young woman a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, and the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape her world.
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