They’re scattering to places around the United States, Canada and England.

Some know exactly what career they want to pursue, while others still haven’t figured it out. For some, their time living in the Cayman Islands is coming to an end. Of the 25 graduates of the Cayman International School class of 2017 – the school’s largest graduating class to date – 24 are going to university in the fall, while the 25th will wait to start college until after a four-year stint in the U.S. Navy.

They will miss their friends, they will miss their family, but they are ready to embrace the next phase of their lives. Just hours before graduation, class valedictorian Camila Pantin was still trying to process in her mind what was about to happen.

“It still hasn’t hit me … that [Cayman] won’t be the place I’ll be living for the next few years,” she said. This autumn, Camila starts at the University of Notre Dame, where she’ll study liberal arts for the first year, with the idea of eventually entering the school’s College of Business.

Like eight of her classmates, Camila will enter university with college credits, thanks to the successful completion of Cayman International School’s IB (International Baccalaureate®) Diploma Programme, an optional, advanced curriculum. The rigorous IB Diploma Programme challenges high school students,“It was challenging and pretty hard, but it was manageable,” said class salutatorian Erik Bjerksholt. “It was stressful at times, but the teachers do a great job supporting us. They want you to do well.”

Originally from the Canary Islands, Erik is heading off to the U.K. – probably Bath – to study chemical engineering at university. He doesn’t see himself coming back to the Cayman Islands to live. “I hope to come back to visit,” he said.

Graduate Theo Nielsen will continue a family military tradition by joining the U.S. Navy. His great-grandfather fought in World War I, his grandfather in World War II and his father was a U.S. Army Ranger in the early 1980s. After spending four years in the Navy, Theo plans on attending university. He said that he thought attending CIS was a wonderful experience.

“The teachers were the best I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’ve never had such great teachers supporting me.”

Dani Scott is moving to New York City to attend The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, a college conservatory for the performing arts. Dani, who is the daughter of EY Regional Managing Partner Dan Scott, said she loves New York City and even though she grew up in a place as small as Grand Cayman, she is looking forward to living there.

In his congratulatory address to the graduates, CIS Director Jeremy Moore – known as Dr. Jeremy to his students – spoke about the tradition of the graduating class choosing a senior quote, which this year was from Louisa May Alcott: “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

“This quote reflects confidence and I admire this confidence that you have as you move on to new adventures,” said Jeremy, then challenging the graduates to define their direction.

“You are not afraid of storms and you are learning to sail, but where are you steering your ship? What do you want to do?” he asked. “That may sound like a trite and tired question at first, but I don’t simply mean what profession do you want to enter into; I mean what do you want to spend your life doing? What is your purpose?”

Jeremy told the graduates that he hoped their goals were not as simple as personal wealth and he said a Harvard University survey surmised that the secret to happiness was achieved through four actions.

“Cherish your most important relationships,” he said, citing the first action. “Be a contribution – not make a contribution, but be a contribution. Remember that by helping others and helping our world, you are also helping yourself.

“Take care of yourself, your health and your well-being,” he continued. “And do more of what you’re good at and less of what you’re not so good at. You won’t be truly happy if you choose a career and a life path for the wrong reasons. You must realise your strengths and build on them and do what you enjoy.”

Whatever this very capable group of young men and women do in their future, they have already had a huge impact on the young students at CIS who look up to them as example and models. They will be missed by younger peers and teachers alike, and have set a high standard that will be hard to match.

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