Ursuline News

Graduation 2021: Valedictorian and Salutatorian Speeches

Read excerpts of the speeches given by Valedictorian Anna Camille Fent and Salutatorian Sophie Emma Anderson at the Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2021 on May 23, 2021.

These excerpts will also appear in The Texas Catholic.

Excerpts from Anna Camille Fent's Valedictory Address

And who is the writer of our lives? God is. It is God’s will that we should serve, His plan that we should follow. At multiple points this year, I wondered: what was God’s will for my life—and how in the world would it come together for graduation? But, thanks to the faith formed in us at Ursuline, my class and I have learned to trust that God is in control. In fact, this Catholic identity is perhaps the most important pillar of the Ursuline experience. Ursuline has instilled in us the virtues of fortitude, patience, and faith, which enable us to trust that everything will work out according to God’s plan in the end. No matter what crazy plot twists get written into our lives, our foundation of faith in the Lord will never fail to bring it all together for the season finale.

As we face our own season finale—graduation—we have hopefully soaked up some of the practical wisdom hidden in those sitcoms we’ve spent the last year watching: find your supporting cast. embrace the laugh track. Have faith that, with God, everything will be okay in the end. Ursuline has provided the foundation for this wisdom with a vibrant community of sisters, a rich collection of traditions, and a framework of Catholic faith.

However, while we might be leaving the soundstage of Ursuline—beginning a new season of life or maybe even a new show altogether—we need to recognize that the show doesn’t end here, with us. We must take what we’ve learned from our time at Ursuline and apply it to others. Not only should we find our supporting cast, but we should also become the supporting characters in others’ lives, helping and serving those in need. When things get tough, we need to take a step back, get some perspective, give thanks for our blessings, and then use those blessings to serve others less fortunate. Above all, we are to take the faith in God we have so carefully cultivated here out into the world with us, sharing it with others so that they too may catch our spirit of service.

No, the story does not end with us; rather, we are now invited to join a story much larger than ourselves, one that calls us…to provide support to those around us, to recognize our blessings, to use them for good, to follow God’s will by dedicating our lives to the service of others—this is our calling as Ursuline graduates. This is the story we’ve been written to tell. This is our mission, our vision, our message: to broadcast the spirit of Serviam as the world watches.

Excerpts from Sophie Emma Anderson's Salutatory Address

As I reflected on these past four years, I couldn’t help but return to a Bible verse cherished by my brother. Matthew Chapter 18 Verse 3, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Christ calls us to become like children, not in demonstrating immaturity, but in perceiving the world with bright eyes and a blissful heart. I see this verse embodied in each of my two hundred twenty sisters who stand with me today— their relentless curiosity, innate generosity, and fierce resilience.

To quote Yoda, a figurehead of our two-time winning Powderpuff team, “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is,” and the curious minds of the young women before you today are no exception. Each of us has sailed the tumultuous waters of the Aegean Sea with Odysseus, witnessed the fall of Scotland at the hands of a mad king, and attended the magnificently elaborate parties of Mr. Jay Gatsby. But, most importantly, we have grown together through our classes and discussions, becoming a mosaic of each other’s ideas and experiences. Individually we are unique, but most powerful when part of a larger whole. Pushed and supported by our teachers, we leave Ursuline unafraid to speak our minds, prepared to solve any problem placed before us, and affirmed in the knowledge that each of us is in fact a math person. Even when this curiosity led to misadventures – cue one exclusive aquatic excursion at freshmen retreat – Ursuline has cultivated in us a deep appreciation for exploring the unknown.

Our class is curious, but more importantly, our class is giving. Like a young child, our class gives constantly and selflessly. Over the past four years, we have donated countless meals to families throughout North Texas, forged bonds of friendship and guidance with the residents of elderly homes, and, heading the Intramurals service project our junior year, assembled boxes of supplies that benefitted families in the poorest communities of Venezuela. This year, as we navigated senior service amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the tradition—rather than coming to a halt—was met by our class with innovation and dedication. We were unable to serve local hospitals, elementary schools, and food pantries, but through it all, we still had BookNook. It was a chaotic and constantly changing path, full of technological barriers and early mornings, but I would be remiss if I didn’t include the great impact teaching a young and excited child to read has had on each of us. While we might be leaving our blazers with the Serviam patch behind, the spirit of service is instilled in us and has been from the second we received our first rose which changed our lives impermeably and forever.