Use Your Voice: Ara Gershengorn Delivers 2023 Cum Laude Address

On April 20, Roxbury Latin celebrated in Hall the 12 members of Class I whose efforts and accomplishments have earned them membership in the Cum Laude Society. Each spring, the all-school Cum Laude ceremony honors the life of the mind—affirming that at the heart of a good school is scholarly engagement.

“This special event is intended principally to do two things,” began Headmaster Kerry Brennan. “The first is to recognize the most distinguished scholars of the First Class. In their efforts and in their accomplishments, they have put to good use the gifts they have been given… The second purpose of this annual ceremony is in many ways the more consequential, for it involves everyone else in this room. In honoring these 12 boys, we are honoring the life of the mind; we are honoring trying hard and doing well; we are affirming that at the heart of a good school is scholarly engagement. I admonish you to take to heart the example of the inductees… All of you boys have the capacity to strive, to grow, to change, and to know the satisfaction of ideas unearthed and potential realized.”

Delivering the morning’s Cum Laude address was Ms. Ara Gershengorn, an attorney in Harvard University’s Office of the General Counsel, and mother of Michael Thomas (I), one of the honored inductees.

In her work, Ms. Gershengorn advises Harvard’s senior leadership on a wide range of issues; she recently has served as lead in-house counsel managing the litigation challenging Harvard College’s consideration of race in admissions. In her address to students in Hall, she also spoke about her consequential role serving on the legal team that successfully convinced the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional in 2013.

“Each of you has a unique perspective,” she urged the students in the audience. “When opportunities present themselves, when you have the chance to use your voice for something important, when there are others who are afraid to speak, step up, share your perspective, and ensure they have a chance to share theirs.”

Read the entirety of Ms. Gershengorn’s remarks.

Between lively renditions of America the Beautiful and Jerusalem, Gaudeamus Igitur and The Founder’s Song, Mr. Josh Cervas, president of RL’s Cum Laude chapter, provided a history of the organization before he awarded the twelve inductees their certificates: “By formally recollecting our origins each year, we also reaffirm our commitment to the Society’s original and abiding motto—three Greek words inspired by the three letters of the old Alpha Delta Tau name: Alpha stands for Areté (Excellence), Delta for Diké (Justice), and Tau for Timé (Honor). These three words, with deep roots in our past and far reaching implications for our future, raise qualities of mind and character which, ideally, each member of the Society will espouse as his own values and strive to instill in others throughout his life.”

The following seniors were inducted into the Cum Laude Society this year:

Owen Butler
Carter Crowley
Ethan Dhadly
Will Grossman
Akshay Kumar
James McCurley
Alex Nahirny
Tait Oberg
Justin Shaw
Michael Thomas
Kevin Wang
Luke Wilkinson