“Who invented math? Why did they do that? Did they want algebra to take up hours of our lives we’ll never get back?”
Probably not, but these are questions that can go through the mind of a student in a rigorous curriculum with many expectations upon her. Ursuline Academy is a school with a challenging academic program, where students like me tend to sign up for many extracurricular activities. In my junior year, which is often known as the hardest year of high school, I see how high standards, thoughts of college, and looming deadlines can make you lose sight of the big picture.
On November 3, 2019, the picture came into focus, big and bright. Ursuline’s Open House began as I walked to the library preparing to introduce our school president and give a brief review of my own Ursuline experience. I thought about what message I wanted to convey to applying sixth graders and their parents. I began to think back to when I was in a similar position in comparison to where and who I am now. What would I have liked to hear? This exercise made me realize how much I have gained while at Ursuline. I have become part of a family since beginning seventh grade, while swimming, singing, speaking French, making friends of all ages, and serving others.
So I decided to share a story with them. It’s very easy to look back at our lives and see how different moments connect. In 2005, Steve Jobs talked about connecting the dots in his commencement address to Stanford graduates. Before officially dropping out of college, Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class. Ten years later, the Mac would be the first computer to display fonts shown in that very class. He had no idea what his future held in store but he was open to all possibilities. He says that looking back, it seems simple to connect the dots and see how each moment led to another but that life will surprise you; the only constant is that our lives will all reach an end, as they should. He told the graduates to not be afraid of what was ahead but to always keep moving, to trust their intuition as they began a new chapter.
I am nearing a new chapter, and constantly being reminded of it. I don’t have all the answers but at Ursuline, I have discovered the tools and experiences I need to be successful in the next chapter. Five years ago, I stopped dancing ballet to try something new and the next thing I knew I was one of two seventh-graders trying out for the swim team, knowing no one there. Maybe I always had the courage, but Ursuline has continued to afford me platforms on which to grow and develop. I’ve just completed my second to last season on that same team but I’ve also become a member of the student-run a cappella group, joined Student Council, Green Club, and learned to be open to the opportunities that come my way. Maybe in college, I’ll be able to partake in similar initiatives and share my experiences. Maybe using what I’ve learned about caring for the environment and our duty to serve others will lead me to a career path. Each day I am drawing new dots and forming new ideas. My experiences at Ursuline have challenged me to be more than just one of its students, but also a student of life.
The girls that were sitting in front of me on the day of Ursuline’s Open House will also begin new chapters. These pages are part of the journey, and we are working hard today to be able to share our gifts tomorrow… and in time, to connect the dots.