Congratulations, Scholars!

Nineteen sixth-form students were inducted into Brooks School's Cum Laude Society yesterday with a special ceremony in front of a packed Ashburn Chapel filled with students, faculty, parents and friends.

"This ceremony and the reception that follows are demonstrations of our enthusiastic commitment to honor scholastic achievement at Brooks School," Academic Dean Susanna Waters told the audience after all sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee" together.

The Cum Laude Society, founded in 1906 and modeled after Phi Beta Kappa, is dedicated to honoring scholastic achievement in secondary schools and celebrated annually at Brooks — one of 382 chapters across the world.

"What distinguishes this group of scholars for me is their passion," Waters shared after the 30-minute event, welcoming the following inductees from the class of 2019 into the fold:

  • Amolina Bhat
  • Eddie Choi
  • Caroline Cutter
  • Jadie DeLeon
  • Sarah Flesichman
  • Brian Kang
  • Jackie Lappin
  • Charlotte Marks
  • Spencer Pierce
  • Maddie Shea
  • Stella Si
  • Connor Silva
  • Claire Trustey
  • Lily Valerio
  • Tianshu Wang
  • Katie Warren
  • Ethan Yang
  • Caroline Yonce
  • Lami Zhang

"When I read these students' names and recognize them for their scholastic accomplishments, I think about the curiosity driving them to ask questions in class, the hours in the library searching for understanding, and the commitment to skill development enabling them to become independent learners," said Waters. "Some of them get excited about linear algebra or analyzing poetry, just as some love building robots or critiquing economic models. Their passion has inspired them to apply themselves fully to their studies, and that is definitely something worth celebrating."

See an album of photos from the 2019 Cum Laude Society Induction

Visit our Embrace the Challenge page about Brooks' academic program, offering students the opportunity to choose studies appropriate for their ability, whatever that may be.

The Cum Laude Address was offered by World Languages faculty Lillian Miller P'14, P'17, P'20, a Spanish teacher at Brooks since 2006.

The educator — who teaches Honors Third Level Spanish and AP Spanish Language & Culture, which Waters jokingly referred to as "Varsity Spanish," and serves as School Year Abroad Coordinator, faculty advisor to Alianza Latina and co-chair of Diversity Leadership Council — spoke about her experience being bilingual.

Encouraging all students to learn a second language, she insisted that doing so will widen students' horizons and give each "a chance to learn more about yourself."

Having grown up bilingual, Miller knows of what she speaks. Born in Ohio, she was raised in Peru speaking Spanish and learning English in school as well as from her American mother.

With fluency in Spanish "you can put it on your resume and increase your job opportunities," she said. "Being fluent in Spanish will give your interviewer very important insight about yourself. It shows that you are a global citizen that realizes the importance of communicating with more people in whichever career path you choose to follow."

Quoting Nelson Mandela, she added, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."

Check out the Deans' Den Blog to see examples of what happens inside Brooks classrooms every day.

To reinforce her point, Miller shared the story of her own "bilingual journey," through school and later, her career, which brought her to Brooks.

Initially, Miller studied at the University of Lima in Peru. But during her first year there, she and her family moved to Florida fleeing an outbreak of terrorist attacks in Lima. A year later, she enrolled at Boston University. Following a couple of summer internships in finance and a job in a Miami bank, Miller eventually returned to Boston, where she began working for Putnam Investments.

"Little did I know that 10 years later, my bilingualism was going to lead me into a different career path," she remarked, "one in which I would discover my true passion: teaching."

Detailing her gradual transformation from a gig teaching preschoolers Spanish to instructing at Merrimack College and getting her Master's in Education, Miller insisted, "Bilingualism has shaped my life."

"I have wondered what would have happened to me if I didn't know English when I arrived to the United States," she added wrapping up her remarks, after which the honorees and their guests celebrated with a lunch reception in the Robert Lehman Art Center. "Would I have been able to go to college and later work in business? The same goes for Spanish. The need for Spanish speakers in the United States led me to career in teaching and I discovered my passion."

Addressing students directly, Miller (below with her family, second from right) urged, "Learn another language and broaden your horizons because the knowledge of another language will enrich your life and who knows what you will discover in your bilingualism journey?"

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