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They have traveled together, pursued research projects, and gained fresh perspectives about service over four years in the five Fellows Programs of the Batten Leadership Program.

On Wednesday, May 20, the Class of 2020 Fellows offered reflections on their journeys in a gathering via Zoom. While all Fellows, the Class of 2020 Fellows' parents, and faculty directors of the programs were in the meeting, the seniors were at center stage, and their emotional expressions of gratitude opened a new window on the power of technology to convey unity and uplift.

Sean Wetmore, Director of the Batten Leadership Program, served as the evening's emcee. He greeted the students from the unusual solitude of the Massey Leadership Center's lobby, where the Batten program has its office. In his remarks, he reminded the Fellows of the importance of gratitude, and the speakers took up that charge with fervor.

Each of the five Fellows Programs had chosen a senior to speak on behalf of the group:

Katherine Chang spoke for the seniors in the Chesapeake Bay Fellows. Her remarks spotlighted their explorations of waterways, often paddling for many miles and experiencing a sense of accomplishment coupled with depth of appreciation for the environment. The Bay Fellows of the Class of 2020: Chang, Jarod Haley, Olivia Highton, and Spencer McCraw.

Laura Read delivered remarks for the Global Health Fellows. She spoke about the first meetings of the group at the Brock Environmental Center and the astonishing arc of their journey to encompass work in Belize on an array of health and education issues. The Global Health Fellows of the Class of 2020: Read, Ells Boone, Sahib Chandi, Julia Duarte, Courtney Kilduff, and Connor Tiffany.

Michael Hostutler offered reflections for the Global Affairs Fellows. He noted that the group had shifted its focus with a change in directors, from international diplomacy to the impact of globalization on indigenous peoples, noting their travels to Peru and their work locally with refugees. The Global Affairs Fellows of the Class of 2020: Hostutler, Morgan Aufenger, Sammi Jacobs, Sean Miller, Ainsleigh Montgomery, Katie Post, and William Smythe.

Nik Yanek-Chrones offered a celebration of independent learning in his reflections about the Engineering, Design, and Innovation Fellows. He said that the seniors “found our places, due to the liberty of choice we were given," as he went on to cite the specific projects of each senior. “If you want results, follow your heart." The EDI Fellows of the Class of 2020: Yanek-Chrones, Sarah Haugh, Maguire McMahon, and Leah Smith.

Avery Munn spoke for the seniors in the Literacy Fellows Program, reflecting on their pride in publishing five books over the course of their four years in the program under their own imprint, Catapult Press, and their work in teaching writing with students in the after-school program at Norfolk's Tidewater Park Elementary School run by the Boys and Girls Club. The Literacy Fellows of the Class of 2020: Munn, Virginia Chandler, Danielle Doss, Juliet Lancey, Lelia Ottinger, and Audrey Peck.

The Fellows watched a video, prepared by Price Hall, Assistant Director of the Batten Leadership Program, featuring photos of their work and travel over the past four years.

Headmaster Dennis Manning told the students that their work has served the community, and he charged them to continue exhibiting “intrinsic motivation" as they moved forward to the next stage of their lives in college.

He offered them a motivational reflection, one well-suited to these somber times, from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."


Learn more about the Batten Leadership Program.

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