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Commencement 2017

June 6, 2017

On Friday June 2, Madeira awarded 75 diplomas to the class of 2017. After the traditional processional to their seats with hand held bouquets of 13 red roses, Reverend C. Woodbury “Woody” Bowman of the Fellowship of Christian Universities and Schools gave the invocation.

Elected by her peers as the class speaker, Elfrieda Nwabunnia spoke of hard work and failure.

“You will not always win right away, or the battle. Sometimes you will lose. The trick is to lose mindfully. To lose strong, and smart, and faithfully. To fail with every bit of hard work and passion that will go into the things with which you will one day succeed.”

Seniors Sasha Alexander, Sinclaire Jones and Jihyun Kim together introduced the commencement speaker, former White House speechwriter, Sarah Hurwitz. Hurwitz who touts an impressive resume herself, praised the class of 2017.

“To our graduates, you are extraordinary. You have distinguished yourselves academically at one of the best school in the country,” said Hurwitz. “You’ve distinguished yourselves in just about every extracurricular imaginable. From slam poetry to computer programming, you’ve won all kinds of awards and all kinds of internships. You’ve found countless ways to give back to your communities. And I have to tell you, it was such an honor to receive the beautifully written invitation from your graduation speaker committee.”

Hurwitz spoke of her path to becoming a speechwriter for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and gave advice on how to choose a career that helps everyone be their best self. She closed by reminding the graduates that they have so much opportunity ahead of them.

“The fact is, so many doors are open for you today that have never been open before for women in the country. And you all could not be better prepared to walk through them,” she said. “You are ready for what comes next. You have everything you need to live extraordinary lives and to leave your mark on the world. And I cannot wait to see everything you go on to achieve.”

Head of School Pilar Cabeza de Vaca encouraged the graduates to be active and not complacent.

“Some of you will lead and others will follow.  Lead with conviction, with character, and above all, with ethics.  If you follow, don’t do so blindly.  Go along with eyes wide open so that you can change course if you are straying from what you know is right. Look at life as wondrous, full of hope and opportunities,” she said.

“Don’t let fear dominate your actions, or hatred invade your life. Remember that whenever you reach a roadblock there is always a way around it, and have the courage to take risks, and to fail, and then the perseverance and resilience to pick yourself up and to start again. Don’t be complacent and just let life happen to you. YOU have the power to shape your own life. Live it to your fullest potential, set your sights high and challenge yourself to attain them. Speak up when you see injustice, act with compassion, and be kind, both to yourselves and others. Take time out to think, to love, and to enjoy everything that life puts before you. Listen to words of wisdom from those who love you more than anything in the world, your parents, and don’t ever forget to thank them for giving you life and offering you an education that many can’t access. Above all, don’t forget you are a Madeira girl:  confident, poised, with the world at your feet. Go out and change it for the better.” 

Catherine Shraga, president of Madeira’s board of directors, closed out the speakers by encouraging the graduates to return to Madeira.

“I hope each and every one of you will come back to Madeira to take full advantage of all the great things the school has given you,” she said. “We will always need you to share your lifelong learning with other girls who come after you. And hopefully, you will help support them in ways many older alumnae have supported you. This school will need your ongoing love and help in many ways. Maybe someday you will be the one standing here where I am now, talking to girls just like you."

The ceremony concluded with the awarding of diplomas and the recessional out of the amphitheater. A reception was held for all families and friends. View their college destinations here >>

You can view the commencement ceremony in its entirety at https://locallive.tv

View images from commencement here

Read the Great Falls Sun Gazette article here