Fifteen Seniors Inducted into the Agnes Irwin Chapter of the Cum Laude Society

Fifteen Seniors Inducted into the Agnes Irwin Chapter of the Cum Laude Society

On May 11, 2022, fifteen Agnes Irwin seniors were inducted into the Cum Laude Society at a special assembly led by Rita Davis, President of the AIS Chapter. Head of School Sally Keidel announced the inductees who have achieved excellence in the most rigorous course of study. The society permits school chapters to select up to 20 percent of the graduating class on the basis of superior scholarship.

“Today we honor a group of seniors whose work has been exemplary and whose success reflects the curiosity, concentration, sustained effort, and focus in a world full of distractions, and all of you are so deserving of genuine accolades and honors,” said Davis. She encouraged all students to think about the importance of their own intellectual pursuits and interests. “You are indeed so fortunate to be in an environment that offers a myriad of opportunities … You have had the opportunity to stretch yourself in many ways.” Davis emphasized that an Agnes Irwin education teaches girls to learn how to think analytically and creatively, to express a point of view, and to see from many perspectives.

Congratulations to the following Cum Laude Society inductees: 

Reilly Brennan, Aaliyah Gauthney, Devon Glaser, Jacqueline Heinerichs, Olivia Heldring, Ariana Karalis, Annabelle Kress, Maeve Roarty, Chloe Saulnier, Ava Sim, Mia Skyman, Sarah Toth, Emma Twitmyer, Sara Yamada, Xingrui Yan

Keynote speaker Meridith Pollie ’13, a Cum Laude Society member herself, delivered an inspirational Cum Laude speech filled with wisdom about the depth and meaning of an Agnes Irwin education and the friendships made here. The following is excerpted from her notes: 

I was a “super-survivor” at Agnes Irwin, attending from kindergarten to 12th grade, and it was here that I discovered passions for math and science, French, athletics, politics, a Capella and performing arts, and also where I found a support system of friends and mentors who have continued to support me well beyond high school. After graduation, I moved to New York City to study biomedical engineering at Columbia University, where I ultimately decided to pursue a pre-medical track and apply to medical school. Between college and medical school, I worked for a year in a research lab focused on advanced cardiac imaging techniques. I have attended Weill Cornell Medical College on the upper east side of Manhattan for the past 4 years, where my clinical work has guided me toward interests in women’s health and health care disparities. Next month I will be starting a medical residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania here in Philadelphia.

Today, I will share with you some of the takeaways that I brought with me from my time at Agnes Irwin that have helped me succeed in college, in work, and in graduate school. I’ll focus on three lessons I learned during my time at Irwin's.

First, make time for the interests and hobbies that refuel you. At Irwin’s I had opportunities to explore a wide range of academic and extracurricular interests, and my friends at Irwin’s had diverse and unique interests too. It was always so much fun to support each other and watch each other shine in these different areas. Agnes Irwin fosters a community where everyone supports each other, not for being the smartest, or the most athletic, or the most artistically talented, but for showing up and being part of the team. When I got to college, I remember feeling overwhelmed by my academic coursework, unsure if I would do well in my new intimidating-sounding college lectures. But you know that thing that makes you feel happy and balanced – for me, it was looking forward to play practice at the end of a long day. These are the things that will introduce you to new friends and remind you of who you are outside of the classroom. 

At Agnes Irwin, mentor superheroes are everywhere, just waiting for an opportunity to help you shine.

The second lesson that Agnes Irwin taught me was to seek out mentors who will inspire you, advocate for you, and guide you. [My] experience of having Dr. Weissert as one of my strongest mentors and fiercest advocates [at Agnes Irwin] made me proactive in seeking out similar guidance from faculty whom I admired in college, during my gap year job, and in medical school. Whether it’s your athletic coach, your art teacher, or even an older student who has pushed you or helped you to grow, your mentors at AIS have helped you grow into more confident and capable human beings, ready to take the next step and continue to build on what you’ve learned. In my opinion, Agnes Irwin’s brilliant and dedicated faculty are the school’s greatest asset, and in college, like me, you may experience a bit of a culture shock when you realize that all of your professors are not as personally invested in your success as Madame Davis, or Mr. Savar, or Ms. Ellis, to name a few. 

Finally, I want to touch on the friendships that I made at Agnes Irwin, and how important they’ve been to my success. [N]ot everyone is lucky enough to go to a high school that encourages you from day one to be fully and unapologetically yourself in whatever you do. Being at Agnes Irwin, I formed deep friendships – from my teammates on the crew team to my theater castmates – and learned how to form bonds with different groups of people with different interests. In addition, because our teachers at Agnes Irwin foster classroom environments where we feel safe to participate without worrying about judgment or criticism, we can be vulnerable with one another and we grow to really trust and care about our classmates.So my advice to you: don’t be afraid to lean on your high school friends, especially in the first few weeks of college. They know you better than anyone, and they will be there to provide support, comfort, and love when you need them. 

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