2017 Andover Alumni Awards of Distinction Celebrated at ASM

This Wednesday’s All School Meeting (ASM) celebrated the recipients of the 2017 Andover Alumni Award of Distinction. With the theme of “finis origine pendet,” or “the end depends on the beginning,” each graduate shared stories of their work and ways that Andover shaped them.

“If indeed the end truly begins upon the beginning, then it seems hardly an exaggeration to believe that this great school, in all its historical settings, did play a great role in shaping the lives of the remarkable alumni who are here at this All School Meeting,” said Susan Donahue ’73, Chair of the Andover Alumni Award of Distinction, during ASM.

Since 2012, the AAAD has honored graduates of Andover and Abbot Academy who have achieved success in their professional fields. The Office of Alumni Engagement, headed by Judy Davis, works together with Andover’s alumni network to nominate these recipients.

This year, the award was given to Wallace Alston ’83, an award-winning filmmaker and activist for gay rights, Dorothy Cheney AA ’68, a biologist and researcher of primates, George Bundy Smith ’55, a former New York judge and civil rights activist, and Genevieve Young AA ’48, an editor and manager of Little, Brown, & Company.

Each speaker shared their own experiences at Andover and Abbot Academy, demonstrating how it influenced their careers. Alston stressed the importance of the friendships he made at Andover and how they helped him reach where he is today.

“What struck me most about Alston’s speech was the fact that some of his classmates from Andover were sitting in the pews supporting him through this achievement. I think that really speaks about the nature of Andover and what it values,” said Posie Millet ’20.

George B. Smith Jr. ’83, who accepted the award on behalf of his father, spoke about the inclusive atmosphere at Andover that encouraged his father to grow in confidence. Smith Jr. said that his father, the only black student to graduate in his class, felt a deep sense of belonging because of the community’s dedicated efforts to welcome him.

“[My father] would want you to treat people with compassion and respect, especially those who are disadvantaged. Be kind to those in the Andover community and wherever you go when you leave. Treat others like he was treated,” said Smith Jr. during ASM.

Navin Kheth ’18 said, “[Smith’s] work is really inspiring, just from the fact that he went through so much adversity in his life and also [was] the only black student at Andover… [He became] a judge to end the death penalty in New York, which is very amazing.”

After ASM, the recipients spent time speaking to members of the community. They engaged with students during several classes and attended a special dinner on Tuesday night.

“When you’re at school, you don’t have a lot of interactions with alumni, unless they come for certain clubs or events… [But the recipients] are probably among the greatest in their professions, so you can see them as your model, who you want to be like. A lot of my friends told me that they saw some people who were recipients as their models, and they want to become like them,” said Chloe Choi ’19.