The Cum Laude Induction Ceremony: Messages Worth Repeating 

The Cum Laude Induction Ceremony: Messages Worth Repeating 
Notes from the Head Academic

We invite the parents of the inductees to Cum Laude to join our Upper School ceremony in which the highest achieving juniors and seniors are all celebrated. Those parents and all of our Upper School students and faculty heard two especially poignant messages last week. 

The first message was from our guest speaker, Leslie Ekpe, a doctoral candidate (defending her thesis on Higher Education Administration next month) at TCU. A Ph.D. student studying alongside Nicole Masole, Director of Community Engagement and Inclusion, Ms. Ekpe caught Ms. Masole’s attention as a thinker and a leader, resulting in her invitation The second message came from Catherine Collins-Vecino, who not only chairs our English department but also serves as Cum Laude Faculty Sponsor.

Even though she literally had to speak and run (to teach her 12:30 p.m. class back in TCU’s Honors College), Ms. Ekpe left an impact on her listeners. She spoke of her own exceptional GPA and sub-par standardized test scores and her almost accidental pursuit of a Ph.D. Her scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) had led her to think she would not get into the Ph.D. programs of her choice. She came to interview at TCU for a second master’s degree, figuring a Ph.D. was out of the question. In that interview, the TCU professor recognized Ms. Ekpe’s passion and drive and was not distracted by her standardized test scores. Just as Ms. Ekpe needed to know she was more than her 4.0 GPA, so she came to know she was more than her GRE scores. Her message to our students who were being recognized in large part for their GPAs was powerful: be proud of the work behind those grades, but don’t let those grades define you.

In the closing remarks, Ms. Collins-Vecino acknowledged the chance that a story she was sharing was not necessarily entirely true. She spoke of a legend among ancient Egyptians that they would be asked two questions on their deathbed or at the pearly gates: “Did you bring joy?” and “Did you find joy?” Dovetailing with Ms. Ekpe’s message about being the best person you can be and not being defined by grades or scores, Ms. Collins-Vecino asked not only the Cum Laude students, but also all of those present, to take the challenge of being driven by joy.

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The Cum Laude Induction Ceremony: Messages Worth Repeating 

Fort Worth Country Day has an institutional commitment to the principles of diversity. In that spirit, the School does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, creed, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or national origin in admissions, the administration of its educational policies, financial aid, athletics, and other School-administered programs.