2020 Commencement Remarks – Board Chair Michelle Leith Cohen ’88 and Alumni Association President McKay Baur Mills ’92

MICDS Board Chair Michelle Leith Cohen ’88 and Alumni Association President McKay Baur Mills ’92 spoke to graduates and their families at the Class of 2020 Commencement. They celebrated this important milestone and also welcomed the graduates to their new relationship with MICDS – as alumni.

Here are Michelle Cohen’s remarks.

Photo by Tim Parker

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, congratulations to the MICDS Class of 2020!

It is truly an honor and joy to celebrate you today! On a personal note, it is a special honor for me to be part of your commencement because I know so many of you and your families through my time at Mary Institute and MICDS as a student, parent, and Trustee.

Class of 2020: I am so very sorry that these last few months were not the wonderful, exciting capstone to your MICDS experience. My heart aches that you could not finish out the year collaborating in the classroom and lab, competing on the athletic field, and performing on the stage. My heart aches that you could not finish out the year on campus together celebrating Senior milestones and traditions.

As an alumna, I remember how much I enjoyed these milestones and traditions. Even more, however, I cherished my classmates, teachers, advisors, and coaches. And, people are what I treasure most about MICDS.

People are and always have been at the heart of the MICDS experience. The deep connection we feel to each other and to our community is awesome and powerful. And, connection is what our world needs more than ever.

Class of 2020, my wish for you is this: as you reflect on the last few months and the sum of your time here, remember that the greatest gift of the MICDS experience is people, community. Cherish your classmates, teachers, coaches, administrators, and advisors. You will forever have a unique and special bond to each other and to this remarkable place.

At MICDS, you have distinguished yourselves as critical thinkers, writers, innovators, scientists, historians, mathematicians, artists, actors, musicians, and athletes. You have been recognized for achievements in athletics, visual and performing arts, community service, STEM research, and robotics. While we are all so proud of your many outstanding accomplishments, we are even more proud of how you have achieved them. 

You’ve aimed high, taken risks, and stretched yourselves. You’ve mustered courage and persevered in the face of challenge. You’ve extended empathy and listened with open hearts and minds. You’ve collaborated, supported, and celebrated one another.

As important as what you’ve achieved are the lessons you’ve learned along the way around citizenship, compassion, empathy, respect, character, integrity, and standing for what is good and right. These are the qualities and attributes that will serve you best in life, and they are the hallmark of our extraordinary community.

And know that MICDS will always be your home.

We believe in you, are so proud of you and will continue to cheer you on in college and your next great adventures.

A heartfelt congratulations!

Here are McKay Mills’ remarks.

Photo by Tim Parker

I am honored to be here with you today. Class of 2020, as the President of the Alumni Association it is my duty and privilege to formally welcome each of you to the MICDS Alumni Association as its newest members. You are now joining the ranks of over 8,000 living alumni who reside in all 50 states and 38 countries around the world. Your association with MICDS and its proud alumni is now made permanent!

Today marks the 228th graduation ceremony in our school’s history, and I remember mine like it was yesterday. I graduated from Mary Institute in 1992 which was the year that our two schools merged to form one. That year, all of our classes were coed for the first time but there were many logistics that had not been thought through completely. There were so many unknowns that first year; what would campus look like going forward, what would we call the school, would the new mascot, the RamGator, stand the test of time? We were cemented in the history of the school as the year of the merger.

However, I think you, Class of 2020, have surpassed the Class of 1992 for your place in this school’s storied past. The conclusion to this school year has undoubtedly been unlike any other. You have had to sacrifice so many senior year traditions – your final spring sports seasons, your last theatre production, College Shirt Day, Prom, May Day – all because of a virus, which has literally put the world on hold. You have shown grace and strength in what I know has been a difficult and disappointing time.

But these missed events do not define your time at MICDS. Whether you have been here for one year or 14, your growth at MICDS has been broad and deep. Your time here has provided you with opportunities, experiences and friendships that will help you achieve success in college and for the rest of your lives.

Life will take you in many different directions, but I encourage you to come back to campus, visit with your teachers, cheer on the Rams at sporting events, and join your classmates to celebrate reunions.  Your future is bright and you have made your families, teachers, coaches, and fellow alumni very proud. Congratulations to the great Class of 2020!