VERO BEACH — Saint Edward’s thirty-eighth commencement ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 21 in the Waxlax Center for the Performing Arts, with Head of School Michael J. Mersky presiding. Dr. Donna E. Shalala, President of the University of Miami and Presidential Medal of Freedom Honoree, will deliver the Commencement address to the 63 graduates of the class of 2011.
Dr. Shalala is both an accomplished academician and a distinguished public servant, having been the longest serving U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services. Dr. Shalala received her A.B. degree in history from Western College for Women and earned her Ph.D. degree from The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
She has held tenured professorships at Columbia University, the City University of New York (CUNY), and the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She has served as President of Hunter College of the City University of New York and as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dr. Shalala began her public service career at an early age, serving in Iran from 1962 to 1964 as one of this country’s first Peace Corp Volunteers. She served as Assistant Secretary for Public Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Carter from 1977-80. In 1993 President Clinton appointed her U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) where she served for eight years, becoming the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history.
In that role she oversaw Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Child Care and Head Start, Welfare, the Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
As Madam Secretary, she directed welfare reform, made health insurance available to millions of children through the approval of all Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), raised child immunization rates to the highest levels in history, led major reforms of the FDA’s drug approval process and food safety system, revitalized the National Institutes of Health, and directed a major management and policy reform of Medicare. In 2007, President George W. Bush handpicked Dr. Shalala to co-chair the Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors with Senator Bob Dole.
Dr.Shalala has received many awards, including the National Public Service Award, Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year Award, and the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights which recognizes individuals for outstanding dedication to improving the health and life chances of disadvantaged populations in South Africa and internationally. In June 2008, President Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.
The Saint Edward’s Class of 2011 has distinguished itself academically, in service to the community, athletics and the arts. The Class of 2011’s SAT and ACT scores place them among the highest scorers nationally, with 43% of the class scoring at the 90% percentile or above on the ACT and 11% of the class scoring in the 99% percentile nationally. Among their ranks are a National Merit Scholar and a National Merit Commended Scholar.
Twenty-five members of the class of 2011 are members of the National Honor Society (NHS), which has been, for more than 90 years the leading organization for recognizing and involving outstanding students in secondary schools around the nation. Student members of the Saint Edward’s Chapter are selected based upon having demonstrated leadership, strong character, superior scholarship and a heart for service.
Thirteen graduates are Advanced Studies Program Scholars which requires candidates to complete a minimum of six advanced placement course and maintain a 3.5 academic grade point average. Twenty of the graduates have been recognized by the Advanced Placement Program: 6 are AP Scholars, 7 are AP Scholars with Honors and 7 are AP Scholars with Distinction.
Nine are members of the International Thespian Society, whose mission is to honor student excellence in the theater arts. The Society’s motto is, “Act well thy part; there all the honor lies.” It is a division of the Educational Theatre Association.
Eight are members of Tri-M Honor Society, an international honor society recognizing secondary music students for their musical ability, academic excellence, school involvement, and community service.
Ten are members of the Cum Laude Society, founded in 1906 to recognize scholastic achievement of seniors in secondary schools. The Society is a fellowship of scholars whose purpose is to recognize excellence in academic work and to promote learning and sound scholarship.
Three graduating seniors are members of the Science National Honor Society. Candidates must meet stringent grade requirements in science coursework, having no less than a B+ in all science work, maintain a grade point average of no less than 3.0 and must take courses in Biology, Chemistry or Physics as well as an advanced placement course in one of these subjects.
The Society was established in 2000 with the objective to encourage and recognize scientific intellectual thought, advancement of student knowledge in classical and modern science, establishment of communication with other scientific communities, promotion of scientific comprehension, and the expansion of student participation in community service thereby encouraging pursuit of scientific knowledge that benefits humankind.
The graduating seniors have been accepted into some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities including Boston College, Bucknell University, Carnegie-Mellon University, College of William & Mary, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, Lafayette College, Middlebury College, Rice University, Smith College, Tulane University, the University of Florida, the University of Miami, the University of Michigan, Vanderbilt University and Villanova University among many others.
Founded upon the independent Episcopal school tradition, Saint Edward’s School is a co-educational, pre-kindergarten through grade 12, college preparatory school committed to educational excellence.