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Ursuline News

Graduation 2024: Valedictorian and Salutatorian Speeches

Read excerpts of the speeches given by Valedictorian Molly Nickols and Salutatorian Madeline White at the Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2024 on May 26, 2024.

These excerpts will also appear in The Texas Catholic.

Excerpts from Molly's Valedictory Address

The Class of 2024 has logged many unique experiences for the Ursuline history books: starting our freshman year during a pandemic, driving to the middle of a desert to film our intramural video, creating an Instagram account documenting the progress of our hallway committee, and, of course, graduating during Ursuline’s sesquicentennial year. But today, I’d like to highlight a less glamorous, but perhaps equally valuable shared experience of the class of 2024: learning to navigate the chaos of an Ursuline fire drill.

While sitting in unfamiliar classrooms for our first day of in-person learning, the earsplitting fire alarm broke the calm, and green fobs flew left and right as we surged out of classrooms and towards the exits. Once outside, we frantically scrambled across the front lawn, concerned eyes scanning the crowd for the friendly face of an advisor and a place to stand silently in line. And adding to the chaos, the Ursula cohort, the half of the grade still at home, looked on through the class hubs, perplexed as they watched their classrooms empty and listened to the siren drone on from a computer screen. But, with time and practice, fire drills became second nature, and sometimes even a welcome change of pace.

We don't need a prophet to tell us that additional chaos lies in the future, chaos more complicated and difficult to manage than fire drills. But this premonition does not have to come with dreadful anticipation, because our time at Ursuline has taught us to be resilient, to embrace challenges, to navigate chaos with grace. Equipped with this fortitude, this ability to weather a storm, please, let’s welcome a little chaos as we go out into the world, because sometimes we need to capsize in order to wash up on an unfamiliar new shore that introduces us to fresh interests, passions, and purposes… In tackling the whirlwind of Ursuline, we have stumbled upon indispensable values and a sisterhood that will last long after our final curtsy. So, Class of 2024, set sail into the tempest; embrace the storm and welcome new destinations.

Excerpts from Madeline's Salutatory Address

Today is a truly special day, as we celebrate not only our own achievements but also a significant milestone in Ursuline history. In case you haven’t heard, our class is graduating in the 150th year of this esteemed institution. 150 years of tradition, excellence, and spirit. From the first group of students in 1874 to today, so many graduates have walked these halls, worn the plaid, and carried the torch of Serviam into the world.

As we celebrate the rich history of our beloved school, let us not overlook our own accomplishments. We are 228 young women, we are composed of singers, dancers, athletes, scholars, and more, but most importantly, we are servants. Over these past 4 years, we have grown through triumph, grown through failure, but most importantly, grown through solidarity. Today, we stand before you, all 228 of us, and speak together with one voice.

The past four years have flown by, filled with highs and lows, and countless moments in-between. We’ve learned that success is not solely about grades, performance on the field, or superlatives, but about personal and spiritual growth and the connections we’ve made throughout our community and beyond. It’s about those late-night McDonald’s door dash deliveries during community days. After all, nothing says solidarity like sharing a McFlurry at midnight.

As we stand on the brink of our futures, let us remember the solidarity that we found with every setback.  And never forget every win, no matter how small, is worth celebrating. While we may never be able to dance on the tables in Fox, hopefully it is memories like this we will always hold dear.

To the Class of 2024, thank you for all the incredible memories, laughter, and joy. We’ve faced every obstacle head-on and emerged more resilient, compassionate, and prepared to take on what is in store for us. We’ve built friendships that will last a lifetime and created a community that feels like family. As we leave these halls, let’s remember that we are never alone. We are Ursuline sisters, forever connected by the experiences we’ve shared.