The true measure of an Academy education

Art Raimo, Academy President, Commencement Address

Bishop Lynch, members of the board of trustees, administration, faculty, staff, parents, relatives, friends and lastly graduating seniors, It is my pleasure to welcome you to the commencement exercises for the Academy of the Holy Names class of 2014 and my privilege to share a few thoughts with the graduates.

There was a TV commercial many years ago, and to tell you the truth, I don’t recall what was being advertised. It took place on the loading dock of a trucking company. There were a number of trailers parked in spaces with one empty space in the middle of the others. A short distance away was an 18-wheeler waiting to be backed into the empty space. The boss of the company was interviewing a young man for a truck driver position. He was questioning the fellow and at one point, looking at a map of the United States that was tacked to the wall, he pointed to a spot on the west coast and then moving his finger across the map to a spot on the east coast said “I know you can get the truck from here to there but then he pointed to the 18-wheeler and next to the empty parking space and asked, “but can you get it from there to here?”

For some reason the image created by this commercial has stayed with me for many years. I think it was the point, that sometimes a short trip can be more difficult than a much longer one depending upon the skill set required to complete the journey.

I’d like to speak with you this evening about a very short trip one of about a foot or even less. It’s the distance from here to here: from your head to your heart.

From your first day of high school and perhaps earlier for some of you, you have been presented with the Academy’s motto – Esse Quam Videri – to be rather than to seem. You have talked about it in your classes and informally with your teachers and friends. Written about it in papers and referenced it in apologies. You even carry the words with you since they are inscribed on the school seal found on your class ring. There is no doubt in my mind that you understand what the words mean. The question I’d like each of you to ponder, not just today but after you leave and well into your future, is whether or not that phrase has made the short trip from your head to your heart?

Understanding what those words mean and living them out day-to-day are two entirely different things. The extent to which you incorporate them into the person you are right now and perhaps more importantly the person you are to become is the greatest measure for us at the Academy in determining how successful we have been during the time you have been students here. Certainly you have benefitted from dedicated teachers who have provided you with a wonderful education. You have received many academic awards and been accepted by a multitude of prestigious colleges and universities, but there is more to an Academy education than that. The true measure of an Academy education lies in the kind of person you become. The way you carry yourself, the way you interact with others. Your Academy education is a lens through which you view the world; an anchor in a world that can sometimes seem cold and unforgiving. But never forget, you have received a Holy Names education – one that is grounded in our Catholic Faith and the charism and values of the Sisters. One that emphasizes not just excellence in all things but also kindness, care and compassion. It is an education of the heart as well as the mind. It is an education of the spirit.

Getting back to the commercial I referenced earlier, after being questioned by the boss, the young man jumped into the cab of the 18-wheeler and after a few deft turns of the steering wheel had the truck neatly backed into the one available space. The boss was amazed and hired him on the spot. The young man had the skill set and the confidence to master a difficult task with ease. He turned out to be a gifted driver clearly underestimated by the boss but sure of his own ability.

You, too, possess a gift. One that has been provided through the support, sacrifice and love of your parents; one that you share with generations of women who have preceded you and the many who will come after. A gift that will give you the confidence you need to be successful regardless of the task at hand. It’s the gift of a Holy Names education. An education of mind, heart and spirit. It’s the gift of Esse Quam Videri.