Before a cheering audience of friends and family, the Connecticut River Academy at Goodwin College Class of 2019 celebrated their diversity, their struggles, and their overwhelming success at the seventh annual commencement exercises on Thursday, June 13.
“We all have many different identities, so it seems appropriate to ask, ‘Who are you when you are at your best?’” senior speaker Victoria Carpenter asked her fellow graduates.
Carpenter celebrated the culture of the Connecticut River Academy (CTRA), which, she said, fostered an environment where her class thrived not in spite of their differences and struggles, but because of them.
“Everyone stands out here because everyone is different. There are no outcasts,” Carpenter said. “When faced with doubt and struggle, we persevered.”
Arqum Farooq Chaudhry also lauded her fellow graduates’ diversity and the common ground they found in the halls of CTRA. Chaudhry, who grew up in Pakistan until age eight, said that CTRA was a place where she was exposed to many different types of people who were all still moving together in the same direction.
“We are a beautiful group of diverse individuals, but each of us has learned common ground,” Chaudhry said. She also thanked the teachers who had helped them, guided them, and taught them over their four years of high school.
“Our teachers gave us second chances and taught us to persevere,” Chaudhry said, turning from her class to address the assembled faculty. “Out of everything you could have chosen to do with your life, you chose to help us.”
CTRA principal Tara Amatrudo urged the 100 graduates to take pride in their many accomplishments. The Class of 2019, Amatrudo said, more than doubled the amount of students graduating with Goodwin College credits than any previous graduating class; 82% of the class graduated with college credit, and had a higher rate of college acceptance than any previous graduating class in the school’s history.
“This year, we did push you to meet higher expectations than ever before,” Amatrudo told the class. “And you rose to that challenge.”
Goodwin College president Mark Scheinberg congratulated the class on their achievements, and for learning the most important lessons.
“The real lesson here isn’t the credits, or the diplomas, or even this graduation. The real lesson is that there is no Them. Because They are Us,” Scheinberg said. “You are the vanguard of the future.”
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.