But with all this hard work, no student makes it to the graduation stage without support from others. Behind every ASH graduate is a network of family, friends, faculty, and staff who have helped them get this far along through support, guidance, and advice. Upon their graduation from ASH, we asked the Class of 2020 to share which staff had the biggest impact on their individual #ASHexperience, with a selection of these shared at the bottom of this article.
Likewise, we also wanted to share the motivating words of wisdom from several of our alumni from all walks of life. To welcome this special class into the ASH Alumni Association, a network of over 13,000 individuals worldwide, we asked a few former teachers and graduates to help inspire the Class of 2020 as they embark on the next chapter of their journey. The theme of change connects all of their messages together, as something that our graduates should embrace in each corner of their lives as they move forward into a dynamic, moving world.
Mimi, Class of 2011, in a video message to our graduates calls on them “...to not be afraid of change, and to more so embrace it with excitement.” In her journey as a marine biologist to a medical scientist (and now contemplating a career in the sustainable food industry), she learned that self-awareness, a willingness to grow, and a desire for a new challenge are all catalysts for making a change. Watch her video message here:
Jorge, a former Spanish teacher at ASH for nearly 30 years, encourages our graduates to keep learning and dares them to learn a new language to help them further communicate and share experiences with others. “Class of 2020, Hail to you on your graduation! As a language teacher, I dare propose to you: On top of the language that you have already learned at ASH: As one of the courses at the college of your choice, do not take a language, rather learn a language. Consider the joy, the sheer pleasure and satisfaction of being able to communicate with someone else in his and/or her native language. Believe you me, any one of you, all of you, can learn enough of any language in two years’ time.”
Davy, a graduate from the Class of 2005, posed a question to the Class of 2020: “Class of 2020, do you want to make a change? Then be the change. Ask questions and start conversations. Allow yourself to be in a vulnerable position. Allow yourself to say the wrong things; it is better to say the wrong thing and learn from it, then to say nothing at all. It shows others that you care. The change starts right there, in that moment; it will be here where you can educate others."
Roberta, a former Speech and Debate teacher at ASH for 22 years, encourages the graduates to keep speaking out and have the courage to to speak the truth of the world as they see it, especially with a health pandemic and equality movements in the foreground. “Your opinion is unique, valuable and worthy of respect. Your goal is to make people feel for each other – understand, care, empathize… As I write this, we are watching thousands of young people in the USA and around the world march and speak out against racism and oppression. They are chanting and holding up signs ‘Black Lives Matter’. In their voices and their faces, there is hope. Hope that their tomorrows – your tomorrows will bring people together and give everyone everywhere an equal chance to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The change our alumni speak of, through their own lens and lessons learned in life, craft a perspective that can be applied to all of our lives, and especially to those of the Class of 2020, as the next generation of youth who can not only embrace the change, but be a catalyst to make it happen.