By Alice Roche Cody
Today our graduating seniors gathered at the Todd Quad for the Annual Senior Breakfast, hosted by the Advancement Office, to address GSB's newest alumni members. Gathered under the tent, students enjoyed bagels and listened to remarks by Alumni Council President Sean Johnson '08 and Jack Riccardo-Wood '17, a recent Brown graduate. Both encouraged our graduating class to stay connected with their alma mater.
"I'm excited to officially welcome you into the alumni community," said Sean, who invited seniors to join the Alumni Council. "We're a group of alumni who get together a few times and year and find exciting ways to engage with the GSB community. Our goal is to champion the importance of giving back to our school."
When Sean got to college, he appreciated the special relationships he had formed with Gill's faculty, bonds that his peers did not share with their high school teachers. "Because of the relationships I built here, that's why I give back to GSB," he said. "We all remember the teachers who challenged us, who believed in us, who pushed us out of our comfort zone to do better. Gill is a special place; don't forget about us.”
Next, Jack shared his advice for starting college and talked about how his GSB connection proved crucial during his adjustment. "I was nervous; I didn't know anyone," he said, adding that he made new friends by joining campus clubs. "Once you make a connection and start feeling more comfortable, you start reaching out more." During those early days, he found it helpful talking with his high school friends, as they were all going through similar experiences. "Stay in touch with your friends here," he said. "Those are the bonds that last a lifetime." Keeping in contact with his GSB teachers also proved essential. In fact, his English teacher, Dr. Andrew Lutz, introduced Jack via Zoom for his college honor's thesis on creative writing.
At GSB, Jack co-founded the Gay Straight Alliance, and he recently visited the Gender and Sexuality Alliance Club virtually to help plan an upcoming Student Forum about identity and expression. While a student at Brown, he worked with Brown Active Minds, a suicide prevention and awareness organization, and served as co-president of Brown's ACLU chapter, advocating for LGBTQ+ and voting rights.
Jack encouraged our graduating class to give to GSB, no matter the amount. "I give what I can, even if it's $10 or $15 dollars," he said. "You can direct where your gift will go; I give mine to the GSA Club." Above all, he congratulated our seniors on their remarkable accomplishments, this year more than ever.
"Welcome to the Alumni Community!" he said. "You're a very resilient class, living through a global pandemic – not easy!"
Are you a GSB alum looking to reconnect? Be sure to join our online alumni network community through GSB Alumni Connect to catch up with old classmates, learn about upcoming events, and even explore career opportunities with fellow Knights.