Class of 2006 from numbers to names
Four years ago, we didn’t really know them. We knew their average SAT score (over 1,300), how many had graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class (83 percent), how many had attended public high schools (75 percent) and how many had attended private schools (the other 25 percent). But numbers never tell the whole story.
Now, as we bid farewell to the Class of 2006, we know names, faces and most important, personalities. There are still numbers: more than 3,000 bachelor’s degrees will be awarded on Sunday, along with more than 2,000 graduate and professional degrees. Among that group, the oldest degree recipient is 56; the youngest, 16.
But the Class of 2006 stopped being defined by numbers a long time ago. And what we’ve learned about them gives us more faith in the future and in the ability of highly committed people to make a very big difference.
People like Greg Smith, who earned his master’s in math at age 16 while working — and networking — for children’s rights, along the way winning the admiration of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Oprah Winfrey and others.
And Emmanuel Smadja, who has reached out to students in need in Charlottesville and in a Nicaraguan orphanage.
And Jade Craig and Gwen Archard, who reminded the U.Va. community that its history is built on contributions from slaves and scholars, disabled Confederate veterans and groundbreaking activists.
And Anne Holt, whose love of opera brought “Carmen” to Grounds; Catherine Neale, who is committed to rebuilding storm-ravaged New Orleans; Phil Jackson, who combined business savvy with a musician’s chops; and many more.
As they enter the world beyond Grounds, their lives may yet be defined by numbers — but numbers harder to calculate: the number of lives saved, hearts touched, eyes opened, minds changed. We wish them the best, and thank them for having already given so much.