Joining the proud ranks of so many BB&N alumni/ae before them, the Class of 2019 saw the culmination of years of hard work rewarded at Graduation this June 7th.
Head of School Dr. Jennifer Price opened the proceedings by honoring ten departing faculty whose service to BB&N has been invaluable. Recognizing 309 collective years of service, all in attendance gave an emphatic and well-deserved ovation to: Beth Brooks, Sandy Dow, Al Coons, Candida Monteith, I’man Solomon, John Santos, Nina Revis-Barresi, Mark Lindberg, Rob Leith, and Bill Rogers.
Student speaker Aurash Vatan ’19 addressed his peers with a mix of trademark humor and touching sincerity. Vatan spoke of the incredible characteristics of his class, reading a series of acts of kindness he had asked his classmates to submit to him. Both large and small acts stood out as indicators of the closeness and compassion of the graduating seniors. Vatan also noted the uniqueness and beauty of being part of this class of 126 wonderful people. “What we’ll miss most, I think, is walking into the Commons and knowing that wherever we sit, it will be amongst friends.”
Following an introduction by her daughter, Katharine Randall ’19, keynote speaker Dr. Katrina Armstrong (Chair of the Department of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Jackson Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School) stressed the importance of both faculty and relationships in her address to the soon-to-be graduates. Armstrong first issued a heartfelt plea to recognize the exceptional teachers in attendance, noting that “there are absolutely no better educators than those sitting here today, the faculty of BB&N.”
Armstrong continued by relaying an anecdote from her time as a very young doctor when she was treating an elderly woman. “I was determined to save her life. I got her the best possible treatments and followed her lab tests religiously. There wasn’t a number I couldn’t fix.” Despite her best efforts, Armstrong was devastated when she had to give the woman bad news, and was surprised by the reaction: “Instead of being angry, she thanked me for being there, for explaining what was happening and calling to check on her,” Armstrong said. “She ended our conversation by saying how glad she had been that she gotten a young doctor who wasn’t too busy or important to be able to see who she was.”
Armstrong noted how that experience and others like it changed her understanding of what really matters. “Life is not about getting the best numbers or even the outcomes we wanted, but about the relationships we developed along the way.” Armstrong then pointed out the many relationships the Class of 2019 cultivated during their time at BB&N, not just with peers and faculty, but with learning, work, and most importantly of all, with themselves. “You’ve learned that you have the strength to make it through even the hardest things…and are still learning to forgive yourselves your mistakes and get up the next day and try again.”
Following a musical interlude featuring flutists Philip Satterthwaite ’19 and Magnus Aske ’19 and pianist Avik Sarkar ’19, Head of School Dr. Jennifer Price relayed her own words of wisdom to the graduating seniors.
Price shared an anecdote about a “cheesy” Hallmark plaque emblazoned with a poem that her mother had given her as a child. Against all odds, the trinket followed Price from bedroom, to dorm room, to apartment, and finally a house, where she actually read and considered the poem one random day.
“The poem, titled ‘That Woman is a Success,’ talked about the measure of true success, and one line really stuck out to me: ‘who puts her best into each task and leaves each situation better than she found it,’…What a thought!” Price spoke about how this class had achieved just that throughout the year, citing several examples, before closing with a challenge to continue that practice as they embark on their next step. “Imagine the impact the BB&N Class of 2019 could have on this world with that simple approach…you are fully ready to leave the thousands of places you will touch better than you found them.”
The proceedings closed with a rousing performance by the BB&N Chorale and the singing of the school song, Jerusalem, before the newly minted alums made their way out of the gym and into the great, wide world.
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