fbpx On Gratitude | Phillips Exeter Academy

On Gratitude

By
Morgan W. Dudley '77
July 25, 2019
Morgan Dudley

Exonians around the world, from Hong Kong to Boston, from Seoul to London, have shared with me over the past three years stories of personal growth they experienced during their time at Exeter. Inevitably, each account ends with a heartfelt expression of gratitude, accompanied by a commitment to serve humanity as a way of returning to the world in some measure what many of us feel the Academy gave us.

Gratitude is a defining characteristic of Exonians and their families. We know — from the Academy’s founding to the present day — it is through the vision, generosity and leadership support of so many in our community that Exeter strives to be better, to achieve excellence in both knowledge and goodness.

The support of both volunteers and donors has strengthened PEA in significant ways in recent years. We’ve accomplished so much together, from the opening of the new David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Theater and Dance, to an innovative, first-of-its-kind course on digital-age ethics that paired 40 students with 40 alumni mentors.

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate the life-changing impact of philanthropy is to offer the story of one student who graduated this spring. Calvin ’19, like nearly half of our student population, was a recipient of need-based financial aid. As a first-generation American, Calvin arrived at Exeter from Chicago eager to learn. “I used to think that my potential was limited because of my background,” he says. “Now I [believe] … I can have as much of an effect on this world as [anyone] can.”

During his four years at Exeter, Calvin ran track and earned the Classical Diploma, while also auditing extra classes that piqued his individual interests. He had the chance to study ancient ruins in France, and to compete with the winning team in the United States Invitational Young Physicists Tournament. All the while, he made giving back to others a priority. He served as a trusted student listener, Big Sib Little Sib mentor and peer tutor. He also cofounded a nonprofit to increase access to education in the developing world. His goal is to be a teacher someday. I invite you to read his full story. He is truly inspiring.

Thank you for making the dreams of students like Calvin possible. As we approach another academic year, I look forward to sharing with you more stories like his, and drawing further inspiration from the next generation of Exonians.

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the summer 2019 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.