Ursuline News

Graduation 2019: Valedictorian and Salutatorian Speeches

Read excerpts of the speeches given by Valedictorian Mary Elizabeth Chen and Salutatorians Morgan Elizabeth Andrulis and Kaitlynn Ern De Soo at the Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2019 on May 26, 2019.

These excerpts will also appear in The Texas Catholic.

Excerpts from Mary Elizabeth Chen's Valedictory Address

The time has finally come. We are graduating...

Our teachers and coaches have pushed our intellectual, creative, artistic, and physical capabilities to teach us lessons and to help us reach our own goals. Whether it be on the playing field, on the stage, or in the classroom, we are challenged to go beyond the status quo. More importantly, they have taught us that the bumps along the way are natural and that we are more than capable of overcoming the hardships that life hands us. We leave Ursuline knowing that no matter what adversities we will invariably face, we will rise to the occasion with great determination and perseverance.

We can all agree that our Ursuline education has changed us in more ways than one. We depart, each taking with us a piece of Ursuline to the 91 different universities that we will attend in the fall in several different countries around the world.

Class of 2019: now is our moment. Since its founding 145 years ago by the six Ursuline Sisters, Ursuline Academy of Dallas has continued to produce transformational leaders that strive to create a lasting impact on the world. These past four years have not only challenged us as scholars and athletes but also developed us as leaders. Aided by our Ursuline education, we are called to be a force for good in the world.

In the spirit of Serviam, let us take our turn to change society...We hold the key to changing the narrative of the future. In so many ways, leaving Ursuline feels like a natural continuation of the work we have already started, but now we are offered new opportunities to dismantle barriers to equality, to work for equal representation among the people who are determining our stories, and to serve with faith and courage those whom God has called us.

My fellow graduates and sisters, thank you for giving me the privilege of standing before you today. Thank you for the stories you have shared while learning and growing with each other. Thank you for your optimism and drive to work tirelessly despite the possibility of failure. Let us cherish the moments we have spent together, the friendships we have made, and the joy we have experienced.

I want to leave you with the meaningful words of Ursuline Sister Peggy Hill:

"May you be true to the sacredness of each year's journey through the halls of Ursuline. May your whole being be rooted in the Ursuline Mission: women sent to be the compassion of God. May you enjoy the blessings of friendships, dreams fulfilled and hopes realized. And may your every tomorrow come wrapped in love."

Our future is unwritten, and it is up to us to pick up the pen and begin the next chapter of our Ursuline story.

Excerpts from the Salutatory Address, jointly read by Morgan Elizabeth Andrulis and Kaitlynn Ern De Soo

We were just as surprised as you all to find out that this year, Morgan and I were both salutatorians. But then again, with how unique our Class of 2019 is, this shouldn't be a surprise and ... this is not the first time we have both done something together. From being founding members of a community-wide robotics team, we have learned and grown together these past four years.

As Melinda Gates once said in her own commencement speech on this very campus 37 years ago, "If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction."

Thank you to both our teachers and administration...for challenging us to think further, work harder, and dream bigger...Thank you to our teachers... for not only furthering our academics but also for caring for our overall well-being and helping us grow as young women. Thank you to our family and, most of all, to our parents for all the love, support, and sacrifices over not only these past four years, but our entire lives.

Also, thank you to our Ursuline sisters, for the laughs, memories, and support during our years at the Academy. Together, we've spent these past four years working together to achieve what we perceive to be important: whether it be academics, sports, music, theater, art, faith, or fun.

But the journey has not been easy. As a class, we've been through the pain of loss, the many late-nights and early mornings of studying for that big test, the stress and frenzy of college applications, and the pain of hard intramural defeats. Believe us when we say that you all are the most hardworking, driven, outgoing, creative, compassionate, and forward-thinking people we have ever met. And as cliche as this may sound, we both can't wait to see the amazing things our class will do. Sitting on this stage is not just a bunch of teary-eyed high school seniors, but our next generation of doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, actresses, business women, artists, educators, and most importantly, leaders.

And finally, thank you to Ursuline for the endless opportunities and the network of support through sisterhood. Thank you for the opportunity to explore our interests in a welcoming environment we can always call home. Thank you to the six Ursuline sisters who traveled from Galveston to Dallas in 1874 and believed in a vision of Serviam that we now live out as the 145th graduating class. What is most memorable is the friendships and unbreakable bonds we will forever treasure...we have become a lifelong family through our sisterhood.

So thank you Ursuline for giving us lifelong friends both around the world and right at home that will remain with us through thick and thin in the many years to come.