Five Seniors Living Out Ravenscroft’s Portrait of a Graduate

  • Cap & Gown
Five Seniors Living Out Ravenscroft’s Portrait of a Graduate
Stacy Calfo

Born of a visioning exercise with faculty and staff, the Portrait of a Graduate puts into words what it means to be the product of a Ravenscroft education.

What does it mean to be a Ravenscroft graduate?

That’s the question that was set before faculty and staff in a visioning exercise last fall. The shared values coming out of that conversation have since been distilled into five remarkable statements — Ravenscroft’s Portrait of a Graduate — that draw from the aspirational work of Lead From Here and encapsulate the personal, academic and leadership outcomes of students’ growth and experiences at the school.

I am a Ravenscroft graduate.

I embrace.
I embrace who I am with the knowledge and confidence that my personal growth and learning are a journey, not a destination.

I value.
I value and honor diverse perspectives, striving to foster meaningful and authentic cross-cultural and global relationships.

I seek.
I seek opportunities that spark my intellectual curiosity, challenging me to think critically and solve problems creatively.

I lead.
I lead with purpose, advocating for myself and others, endeavoring to effect positive change for all I serve.

“I hope families see that these statements synthesize what we already do on a daily basis,” Justin Brandon, Associate Head of School for Academic Affairs, said. “We live our mission and values every single day on our campus. These statements further solidify the things we already do and believe. The Portrait of a Graduate is part of the DNA of a Ravenscroft student.”

As the school sends the Class of 2023 on to the next part of their journey — and begins to share the Portrait of a Graduate with the broader school community — we explored these statements with five seniors who exemplify what it means to be a Ravenscroft graduate.

Carter Anderson ’23

As a Ravenscroft lifer, Carter Anderson ’23 has embraced the values reflected in the school’s Portrait of a Graduate in many aspects of her life here.

“While Ravenscroft has prepared me academically for my future, these statements represent the lessons I have learned that go beyond the classroom,” Carter said. “I approach each new situation and challenge knowing that I am prepared to engage with those around me in a positive way. Leadership has been an especially important part of my time at Ravenscroft as I have assumed various leadership positions in my years here, and I am sure that I will continue to cherish the leadership skills that I have gained throughout the last four years.”

While Carter has held several leadership roles in her time here, she said her work with the school’s Dialogue Across Differences program is what best reflects the ways she’s internalized this vision for her growth and achievement.

“I approach each new situation and challenge knowing that I am prepared to engage with those around me in a positive way.”

She participated in a dialogue between student leaders and administrators to help them seek more effective ways to communicate toward common goals and learn to value each other’s perspectives. She also attended the Ravenscroft-hosted Triangle Diversity Alliance conference, where she was able to lead a dialogue about diversity, equity and inclusion in different schools in the area.

“This group has allowed me to develop essential leadership skills that will help me connect with people of all demographics, taught me to use dialogue as a tool to resolve conflict and introduced me to people, both within the Ravenscroft community and beyond, of many diverse identities and perspectives,” she said.

As Carter heads to Washington University in St. Louis to study chemical engineering with an environmental concentration this fall, she’s excited for what lies ahead.

“As a student who has been at Ravenscroft since PreK, going off to college will be one of the biggest transitions in my life so far,” she explained. “As I approach a completely new school, city and state, I know that I will also be meeting new people with perspectives and identities that I’ve never encountered before in my time at Ravenscroft. But, although it may be new, I know I will find value in each unique perspective.

“I hope to continue to put myself in new, uncomfortable positions to push myself to learn as much as I can from a school that has so much to offer,” she added. “I know that as I make this transition, I will make mistakes and learn from them along the way, but my time at Ravenscroft has taught me to value rather than fear that.”

Carter Anderson ’23 (second row at left) with fellow Ravenscroft attendees of the Triangle Diversity Alliance conference, held on campus March 24; and (front row, second from right) with fellow seniors at the Women’s Flag Football Championship on Oct. 6, 2022

Carter Anderson ’23

Brianna Donigan ’23

“As I end my time at Ravenscroft, I realize the importance of these statements,” Brianna Donigan ’23 said. “The ‘I Embrace’ statement, in particular, really resonates with me. I truly believe that I’ve embraced who I am and who I’m becoming because of my experiences at Ravenscroft.”

Brianna was an athlete on the cheerleading team, president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a member of the school’s Spiritual Task Force. “All of these experiences pushed me outside of my comfort zone and helped me find my voice,” she said.

It was her time on the Spiritual Task Force that Brianna said enabled her to open her world and begin fully developing her character. She was willing to lead, speaking at school gatherings from her own Christian perspective, but she also learned to value diverse perspectives by talking with students from other faith backgrounds. She gained perspective about different traditions in their families, helping her seek more information about cultures different from her own. She was able to embrace who she was but also saw growth potential in trying something new. “Since I am usually a quiet person, this [role] pushed me outside my comfort zone. I realized that public speaking is not as bad as I thought and that I enjoyed doing it,” Brianna explained.

Brianna Donigan ’23 (third from left) with Head of School Doreen Kelly and other speakers at the March 31 Spring Gathering, planned by the Spiritual Task Force; and (front row, second from right) with fellow members of her senior advisory at the Senior Picnic at Pugh Pond on April 26

Brianna will be attending Denison University in Granville, Ohio. While she is undecided about a major, she’s ready to embrace all that college has to offer, just like she did at Ravenscroft.

“College is a time for exploration. It is a time for you to learn more about yourself and what you want to do with your life,” she said. “It is important to know that you are always changing physically and mentally, and that is okay. Embracing these changes instead of fighting them is important to your journey in life.

“I am not the loudest person in the room, but pushing myself outside my comfort zone is important for me to grow,” she concluded. “Saying ‘yes’ to different opportunities at Ravenscroft, instead of saying ‘no,’ helped me to meet new people. Because of Ravenscroft, I’ve learned the importance of being a leader and how to find and use my voice.”

Brianna Donigan ’23

Hannah Silverman ’23

Hannah Silverman ’23 has experienced a journey full of growth and is confident her time at Ravenscroft will lead her to engage in new opportunities and seek out leadership roles in the broader community.

“My path does not end with graduation. Rather, it’s just the beginning,” Hannah said.

Throughout her five years at Ravenscroft, Hannah’s leadership and commitment shone in the school community. She played on the varsity tennis team, served as a junior marshal and was a member of an award-winning Young Founders Institute business team. But it’s the work she did in diversity, equity and inclusion — specifically, exploring and sharing the variety of faith perspectives held by students on campus — that she hopes will prove to be her legacy at Ravenscroft.

Hannah Silverman ’23 (third from right, partially hidden) at the Jewish Affinity Group’s Hanukkah party Dec. 13, 2022; and (seated on bench, second from right) with her varsity tennis teammates from Fall 2022

As a member of the Spiritual Task Force and president of the Upper School’s Jewish Affinity Group, Hannah had the opportunity to lead and share many holidays and traditions with the entire community. The latter group hosted the Upper School’s first Hanukkah party, which provided many of her peers their first exposure to Judaism.

“I’m proud that I was able to seek new ways to build cross-cultural relationships in the space our affinity groups created,” Hannah said. “The work Ravenscroft has done to create these groups taught me to value and embrace my peers who celebrate different holidays, like Christmas and Diwali. I hope that my work with the Jewish Affinity Group will be remembered as its leaders continue to host the annual Hanukkah celebration.”

Hannah will attend the University of Texas at Austin’s Canfield Business Honors Program, and she said she is excited to explore the city of Austin while laying the foundation for an exciting and successful career. As she prepares to move forward, it is her hope that the work she and her peers did while at Ravenscroft will continue to nurture faith-based understanding among future Ravens.

“The opportunity to lead at Ravenscroft enabled me to not only share in our diverse culture but also taught me the value of listening to and respecting all cultures,” Hannah said. “I hope others see the importance of the leadership work I leave behind. I want to be remembered as someone who was proud of her identity, with a strong voice in support of the Jewish community at the school. I also hope others continue my work to further foster a school environment that values all individuals.”

Hannah Silverman ’23

Rowan Thomas ’23

The Portrait of a Graduate statements seem tailor-made for Rowan Thomas ’23, a Ravenscroft lifer and the Class of 2023’s valedictorian.

“From a young age, I promised myself to remain a lifelong learner and never give up the spark of passion I developed in elementary school for learning about the world around me,” Rowan said. “Even when I had no clue what I wanted to do as an adult, the one goal that remained concrete for me was to forever chase both new knowledge and fresh perspectives, no matter how much it draws me out of my comfort zone.”

It is in their work with the Upper School’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) affinity group where that thirst for fresh perspectives really took root.

In SAGA, Rowan helped lead not just a group of LGBTQ+ students but a community across grade levels. Rowan helped others embrace who they are but also grew SAGA into a family that supports each other through even the rough patches members encounter, from coming out to finding and accepting one’s gender identity. They are proud to have fostered a space that allows everyone to learn, grow and seek more together, providing a beacon of support and empathy as someone who has gone through several of the same experiences. Through this work, Rowan has valued and connected with communities whose voices are often silenced or secondary.

“My goal has always been to be the person I wish I had access to when first coming to terms with my own identity,” they explained. “Being able to take this experience outside of the group to promote greater visibility of the LGBTQ+ community on campus through events like Day of Silence has been some of the most rewarding experiences I have had at Ravenscroft.”

Rowan Thomas ’23 (at right) with fellow members of SAGA and Upper School allies marking the Day of Silence on April 14; and (at back center) with their varsity robotics team, the Techno Tigers, during the competition season of 2023

Rowan has committed to Amherst College, where they hope to pursue environmental studies. As a lover of science and to keep their intellectual curiosity alive, Rowan hopes to conduct research that improves and informs our current behavior and perspectives surrounding environmental issues.

“I won’t ever know anywhere close to everything, but despite the tiny scale of my experience compared to the vast world around me, I aim to continue learning and growing anyway,” Rowan said. “In addition, I hope to continue my leadership as an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights into college and beyond, joining new communities of people equally as passionate for equality for all and a vision for change.”

Rowan Thomas ’23

Edward Wiggins ’23

“Rome wasn’t built in a day” is a statement Edward Wiggins ’23 heard a lot from his Ravenscroft varsity basketball coach, Kevin Billerman.

“This phrase has helped me understand life on and off the court during my time at Ravenscroft,” Edward said. “It means great things take time to develop — which is true for me as a student and for whatever happens in my life in the future. Learning and growing don’t come easy; they come with a lot of uncertainties and hardships. Seeking opportunities to grow and embracing growth is what allows life to be great.”

Perhaps this is why Edward sought a new challenge during his junior year, trying out for the varsity basketball team. He had never played basketball on an organized team before, and he said the lessons he learned in the two seasons he played as a Raven are ones he will carry with him for life.

“By embracing the fact that there are things I don’t know, I will always be driven to discover new things and grow as a person.”

“I realized the importance the entire team plays, no matter how big or small a role you play,” Edward said. “Encouragement and cheering from the sidelines make a difference and can lead a team to victory. I learned to value the talent others had, and that inspired me to work hard at developing as a player. I embraced and sought growth to improve.”

Edward — an honor-roll student who took multiple AP and honors science, math and computer science courses during his time here and is already doing repairs on computers and other electronics — plans to attend the University of Wisconsin - Madison and study electrical and computer engineering. He said he hopes to create new technologies and innovative solutions for modern problems, remembering as he does the inspiration provided by the Portrait of a Graduate statements.

“The ‘I Embrace’ statement, in particular, will really guide me in my future. This statement resonates with me the most because I question myself daily and know that I don’t have things figured out. By embracing the fact that there are things I don’t know, I will always be driven to discover new things and grow as a person,” he said. “It will allow me to find answers to questions that I may have and allow me to incorporate things I learn into products I develop somewhere in the future.”

Edward Wiggins ’23 (third from right) with fellow varsity basketball players as Coach Kevin Billerman addresses students at the Winter Sports Pep Rally on Feb. 10; and (at left) with friends during the Senior Picnic on April 26

Edward Wiggins ’23

Read more stories, get the scoop on college and university acceptances, and enjoy throwback photos featuring the Class of 2023 on our Senior Success webpage! Learn more about Ravenscroft’s Portrait of a Graduate in this news article.