June 17, 2010
All text by Jen Cowart
Last Monday night at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence, St. Mary Academy Bay View graduated 142 women. This year, 26 graduates hailed from the city of Cranston, including Jenna Solomon, who ranked third in her class.
Since Bay View honors their top three graduating seniors with speaking roles during graduation week, Solomon was the featured speaker at their annual Parents Night event.
Solomon’s path to academic achievement had a unique beginning, one that she shared with her classmates during her speech.
“When I was 2 years old, my parents brought me to the doctor’s because I was not yet talking or walking. After conducting many tests on me, the doctors told us that I had a learning disability as a result of a neurological problem, and therefore, would never amount to much intellectually,” Solomon said.
As Solomon reflected on her academic achievements to date, she credited her parents with helping her to reach her goals, no matter what they were, beginning on the day of that terrifying diagnosis.
“Obviously no parent likes to hear such dire news, but fortunately I have parents who refused to accept this prediction for my future,” Solomon said.
Her parents placed her in an early intervention program and she began making unexpected progress.
“I was soon reading at the age of 3,” Solomon said. “Year after year, I continued to further prove the doctors wrong as I was put in top level classes at school.”
Solomon believes the struggles she had to endure early on in her life helped to prepare her for her future.
“It gives me a sense of security to know that I can make my future what I want it to be,” she said. “This experience has taught me to never let anyone stand in the way of your future.”
In her speech, Solomon thanked all of the parents and guardians from the graduating class for being there with the students every step of the way on their educational journey.
“Throughout our lives you have taught us all you can and have tried to shape us into mature ladies before we leave you,” she said. “Pretty soon we will be off to college and everything you have drilled in us will stay with us as we venture off on our separate ways.”
Solomon acknowledged the fact that many parents, including her own, may be struggling as the seniors are, with the prospect of the upcoming time to let their students go.
I know that it will be hard for all of you parents to let us go, but you have prepared us well, and I know my class and I are ready to face the real world. Thank you for being with us every step of the way and for your undying support and love,” Solomon said.
Bay View’s President Sister Elizabeth McAuliffe echoed Solomon’s sentiments during her graduation address at the ceremony by quoting the poet E.E. Cummings.
“To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting,” McAuliffe read aloud.
She recognized the choice Solomon’s parents and the parents of the rest of the class had made when choosing a Bay View education for their children adding, “Those who love you chose a Mercy education for you. They wanted you to find you, with all your many facets.”
McAuliffe challenged Solomon and her class as they move on to the next chapter in their lives.
“Great responsibility awaits you,” she said. “Our world awaits you; a world where women and children, in particular, are very vulnerable. Make a difference in their lives.”