The graduates left amid a flurry of balloons released from the building rafters and carrying inspiration and encouragement from commencement speaker Meg Daly ’78. The founder and CEO of The Underline, Daly offered a powerful address, describing herself as an average student in high school who battled an eating disorder and didn’t find her purpose and passion until much later in life.
“Here’s my message to you today. You are not defined by who you are now,” Daly said. “Each of you has your own journey. Take the time to know who you are and what is important to you. And, if you don’t know who you are, or you don’t like yourself like I did, there are people who want to help and can help. Find them.
“If you are lucky, and you have good fortune, pay it forward,” she also said. “… Have a problem? Seek help. You believe in justice? Fight for it. You believe in equity? Live it.”
Head of School Penny Townsend presented the Founder’s Alumni Award for Distinguished Service to Daly, who for a decade has been the volunteer leader of The Underline, a collaborative effort to create a 10-mile linear park and trails in the heart of Miami. “She has truly lived out Paul Ransom’s mission of leaving the world better than we find it, as well as the Everglades Creed ‘to achieve recognition – not in loud words but in worthy deeds,’” Townsend said.
Valedictorian Victoria Porto ’22 also spoke, sharing reminiscences and urging her peers “to persevere even if others doubt us.”
“Even when things get tough,” she said, “let’s never allow one opinion to completely crush us or make us give up. Every single one of us sitting here after four years of hard work is capable and talented.”
The commencement awards were presented to five seniors: Lauren Heller ’22 received the Faculty Cup; Alexa Hommen ’22 received the Head of School’s Cup; Sabrina Shipley ’22 and Kerryn Xu ’22 each received the Marie B. Swenson Founder’s Cup; and Andre Joseph ’22 received the Paul C. Ransom Founder’s Cup.
Associate Head of School John A. King Jr. recognized the Cum Laude Society (top 20 percent of the class) members, which included those inducted last fall and this spring. (See the full list below.)
The ceremony featured a welcome from board chair Jeffrey J. Hicks ’84. It included the presentation of the valedictory and salutatory cups by Head of the Upper School Patricia C.A. Sasser to Porto and Nikhil Kumar ’22, who gave the salutatory address at the Baccalaureate/Senior Send-Off on May 15.
Zoe Holtzman ’22 sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Rise Up For Old RE,” and the benediction, and faculty member Jon Hamm directed the RE Combined Symphony Orchestra.
Hicks and Townsend handed diplomas to the 156 graduates, who are heading to 81 different colleges and universities next year.
“Dream big,” Daly told the graduates. “Be a problem solver, be kind, be comfortable with being uncomfortable and leave the world a better place than when you were here. I believe in you.”
Cum Laude Society
Class of 2022
Sol Cuello Robert
Alba Uriarte Jimenez