Jay Rainey with Distinguished Alumni

From the Desk of Jay Rainey – February 21, 2020

(This week’s letter is adapted from my remarks at the MICDS Distinguished Alumni Award assembly in the Upper School on February 21.)

We are gathered today to honor four alumni with the MICDS Distinguished Alumni Award. This award is conferred on selected graduates of Mary Institute, Saint Louis Country Day School and MICDS for their continuing contributions to humanity, for distinguishing themselves in their fields of endeavor and for bringing recognition to our school community.

We are delighted that three of our honorees were able to return to campus to share their experiences with you. Our fourth recipient, Ting Wu, Mary Institute Class of 1972, is not able to join us today. Dr. Wu leads the Wu Laboratory of the Wyss Institute of Harvard University, which investigates how chromosome behavior and positioning influence genome function and evolution, with implications for gene regulation, genome stability, and human disease prevention and management. Dr. Wu is in Europe today, endeavoring alongside her colleagues in genomic research across the globe to do nothing less than improve the quality and longevity of human life. So although Ting does not have a note from a parent or a doctor excusing her absence from our assembly today, I think we can forgive her just this once.

Our three honorees who were able to join us here today are: Katharine “K.K.” DuVivier, Mary Institute Class of 1971, Ernest L. Greer, Saint Louis Country Day School Class of 1984, and Sterling K. Brown, MICDS Class of 1994.

K.K. DuVivier worked as a field geologist before earning a law degree and practicing natural resources law. She then taught law at University of Colorado Boulder before joining the faculty of Sturm College of Law at University of Denver, where she is currently a tenured full Professor of Law. Professor DuVivier’s research and teaching focus on energy and renewable energy law, with a special emphasis on wind and solar energy, energy efficiency and distributed generation of electricity. She is the author of two books, Energy Law Basics and The Renewable Energy Reader.

Ernest Greer is Co-President of Greenberg Traurig, an international law firm of over 2,100 attorneys in 41 locations. He plays a key role in the strategic direction of the firm as well as firm-wide day-to-day operations. Mr. Greer is not just a highly accomplished business attorney; he is also a visible and principled leader who leverages his firm’s global reach to realize its commitment to investments in and elevation of the communities in which its employees live and work. Mr. Greer has served on boards and in leadership positions for a wide range of community organizations that promote diversity, commerce, healthcare and civic engagement.

Two-time Emmy Award-winning actor Sterling K. Brown currently stars in NBC’s Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated drama series This Is Us. For his role as Randall Pearson, Mr. Brown received an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series as well as three consecutive nominations in the category. He also received a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series, becoming the first African American actor to win his category in the 75-year history of the Golden Globes. Additionally, Mr. Brown made history by becoming the first African American actor to receive the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama.

Thank you K.K., Ernest and Sterling for being here today. What a privilege it is for us to recognize all that you have accomplished in your careers. Last night at the Distinguished Alumni reception, I shared with your classmates, friends and family members who came to celebrate with you – and I will share again here at our assembly today – the commitment that our eyes always be on the horizon at MICDS. Ours is ever the long view. I often tell parents of 4- or 5-year-old students that while our teachers and staff are invested in preparing their children for the next grade level in Lower School, they are even more invested in preparing them for a healthy adolescence in the years to come, and even more invested in preparing them for happy and successful lives as they grow into adulthood.

I would offer a similar perspective to you today. While you might see here on this stage a constellation of stars – award-winning actor Sterling Brown, law firm co-president Ernest Greer, Professor K.K. DuVivier – it was very not so long ago – only an instant ago from their point of view, I would imagine – that he was Kelby Brown, and he was Lamont Greer, and she was… well, I think K.K. has always been K.K.! They were all once here on this campus just as you are here now. They were all once at the very same points along their lives’ paths as you are along yours.

So the bargain I will strike with you today is this one: You are welcome to stargaze this morning, but only if you vault your future self – the accomplished person you are becoming – into their same constellation. Take inspiration from them, yes. They are wonderfully inspiring, and how fortunate we are to count them among our own. But take inspiration from yourselves as well. We are invested in who you will become next year, and in five years, but we are invested all the more in who you will become in 50 years. Invest this same way in yourselves. The nineteenth-century Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov wrote that meaning in human life derives not from becoming this or that, but simply from becoming. Ours is ever the long view at MICDS.

Always reason, always compassion, always courage.

Jay Rainey
Head of School