On Monday, we celebrated AIS’s academic excellence during our annual ceremony in which we inducted 14 seniors into our Chapter of the Cum Laude Society. Not only was this event a proud moment for these students and their parents, it also provided everyone in our community with one more way to acknowledge the qualities that center us. Those qualities are embedded in the Society’s motto --- Arêté (excellence), Diké (justice), and Timé (honor).
As the inductees walked across the stage, their peers had some time to cheer for them and their achievements, but the event also provided everyone with the opportunity to reflect on their own accomplishments, hopes, and dreams. We sat together in the shared pride and understanding that our learning environment is vibrant, and our expectations are high for every girl.
A highlight of this ceremony, for me, was listening to our speaker, alumna, Allison Pickens ’03, deliver an engaging address to your daughters about her time at AIS, her journey since that time, and her aspirations for the future. She connected with them by sharing some of her AIS experiences --- ones that she imagined were similar to those that they were having just now.
Most engaging, however, was the wisdom that she offered by defining three things that she had learned since her years at AIS. While asking our students to reach for the sun, the moon, and the stars, she also showed them the way to what she called self-compassion --- acknowledge your mistakes, forgive yourself and, then, move on --- great words from this high-achieving woman. With this sentiment, Allison suggested a model of success that embraced having the highest expectations for oneself, taking risks, experiencing failure, engaging in reflection, and allowing for self-forgiveness.
Through her story, including receiving a B.A. from Yale, an MBA from Stanford, creating a start-up company, and enjoying her current work as Director of Market Research at Gainsight in California, she asked your daughters to re-define old truths --- to reshape their perception of what success really means. In sharing some of her own vulnerabilities with us, she offered some inspiring insights, which, she said, have become three of her guiding principles. Your daughters’ relief was almost palpable as they considered the prospect of using these principles to design their destinies.
Here is the wisdom, accompanied by the wonderful icons at the top of this newsletter, which Allison offered your daughters:
Perfection is subjective.
Results are never guaranteed.
True north is a moving target.
As always, I wish you a lovely weekend, and I hope that you will find some time to talk about these perceptive, liberating, and wise ideas with your daughters. To me, they provide such a stable base for them as they continue to imagine and define their places in this world.