Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College

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Ann Curry offers words of wisdom

Hold onto your dreams, she tells graduates

NORTON, MASS.—The tough economy is no reason to back away from your dreams; now is the time to realize your power as a force for good in the world, NBC "Today" show anchor Ann Curry told 405 students from the Class of 2010 during Wheaton College’s 175th Commencement.

“I know many of you are fearful about graduating in this very tough economy. You may be worrying about finding jobs in your chosen fields....You are here for a reason. Listen to your heart to find out what that reason is. And once you find it, stay true to it. We all know this economic downturn will end.  The key is to be ready,”  Curry said, in a speech that was witty as well as moving, as she reflected on some of the stories of those she has encountered over the years who have inspired her with their resilience in the face of adversity.

Challenge is to be expected and should be welcomed, she told the class. She offered herself as an example. Her first job out of college was as a cocktail waitress. That didn’t stop her from going on to a successful, award-winning and personally fulfilling career in journalism because she stayed focused on her dream.

She joined the “Today” show in 1997, and was named co-anchor of “Dateline NBC” in 2005. A graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism, she has earned numerous awards, including four Emmy Awards, four Golden Mikes, and an award for Excellence in Reporting from the NAACP. In June 2007, Curry was honored with the Simon Wiesenthal Medal of Valor for her extensive reporting on the violence and ethnic cleansing taking place in Darfur.

“As a mother myself, I have worried about the particular burdens on your generation," she said. "Growing up not only with the pressures from this economy, but also in a time of war, a time of international terrorism, huge humanitarian disasters, both man-made as in Darfur and Congo, and otherwise. To you I say, it is only with adversity that we even have a chance at greatness. Adversity is your opportunity.”

The greatest human beings in history—the famous and the unknown—“all faced what seemed insurmountable odds in their time. Overcoming their fears and frailties, each one helped carve our world—the world you inherit—with their courage and unwillingness to give up.

"More than luck, talent, or even brainpower, determination is the trait. More than any other it will empower you to have the life you dream of. And the best part is that unlike talent and luck and brainpower, determination is what you can choose to have.”

Extensive excerpts of Wheaton's Commencement address and high-resolution photographs are online at: http://wheatoncollege.edu/commencement/commencement/

During Commencement Curry was presented with the degree of Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Honorary degrees were also presented to Diana Davis Spencer, Wheaton Class of 1960, a long-time Wheaton trustee and currently trustee emerita; and prominent allergist Dr. Gillian M. Shepherd, Wheaton Class of 1970.

About 500 alumnae/i participated in Commencement/Reunion Weekend, arriving from as far away as Sweden, the United Kingdom, Israel and Russia. Among them were six alumnae from the class of 1940—the oldest class represented—celebrating their 70th Reunion.

This academic year Wheaton students won numerous prestigious national scholarships and awards, including five  Fulbrights, a Watson Fellowship and a Marshall Scholarship.

The Fulbright winners are: senior Stefana Albu, of Westford, Mass., who will research the neurogenetics of sleep regulation at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany; Thomas (“Neill”) Brandon, of Concord, Mass., who will teach English in South Korea; Anna Littlehale, of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, who will teach English in Malaysia; Eli Lovely, of Turners Falls, Mass., will teach English in Turkey; and Katrina Hegeman, of Dighton, Mass., who will teach English to high school students in the Slovak Republic.

Senior Gabriel (Gabe) Felix Kofi Amo was named a 2010 Marshall Scholar. Senior Roxanna Azari, of Queens, N.Y., was awarded a Watson Fellowship. Junior Seth Robinson, a Leicester, Mass., native, won a Beinecke Scholarship for graduate studies. Seniors Arielle Burstein, of Beverly Hills, Calif., and Rachael Powell, of Madbury, N.H., won a 100 Projects for Peace $10,000 award. Seniors Caitlin Libby and Zachary Sloan have been chosen to participate in Teach For America, a select corps of college graduates who commit to teaching for two years in low-income communities across the nation.

In the past decade, Wheaton students have won more than 121 highly competitive national scholarships and fellowships, including Marshalls, Watsons, Fulbrights and the Rhodes.

Located in Norton, Mass., Wheaton is a highly selective college of the liberal arts and sciences with a student body of 1,550. It is a member of the Twelve College Exchange, which also includes Amherst, Bowdoin, Dartmouth, Mount Holyoke, Trinity, Wellesley and Wesleyan.