Later this month, we look forward to welcoming Caroline Beecher ’15, who recently completed her junior year at Colby College, as the 2021 Alumni Graduation Speaker.
Looking back on her sixth-grade self, Caroline describes herself as shy and quiet in the classroom when she first joined Park’s Class of 2015. But she credits the close-knit community for the strong relationships she built with teachers and peers. “I really learned how to advocate for myself in the classroom,” she says, “which is a skill I’ve carried with me through high school and college.” She credits Mr. Perry for teaching her how to write essays and research papers, has cherished memories of working with Ms. Welshman-Studley at Park’s pool during the summer, and fondly remembers her amazing trip to China with Ms. Chen.
After graduating from Grade 9, Caroline attended Newton North High School, where she was captain of the swim team and did hair and makeup for drama productions. Though Park and Newton North were drastically different experiences – particularly with regards to her small ninth grade class and her larger classes in high school – Caroline shared, “I’m really glad that I had both of those experiences and was able to parallel them with each other, because it helped me to narrow down what I wanted in a college.” Having learned that she loved the small, close-knit community at Park, Caroline selected Colby College in Maine, where she is now a rising senior.
Caroline, who is majoring in economics and minoring in Italian Studies and education, loves seeing the ways in which her various interests overlap. She has found herself drawn towards policy work, specifically focused on social justice and education. Caroline credits her studies for making her intimately aware of disparities within the American education system: “There are a lot of policies that are created that systemically disadvantage students of color and students of lower socioeconomic status. I would really like to work to change that, and feel that the biggest impact I could have would be at the level of policy.” The COVID-19 pandemic has further shed light on these disparities – and intensified them – and after college Caroline hopes to work on making systematic changes to the education system. Throughout her time at Colby, Caroline has served as a volunteer with a group called “Colby Cares about Kids,” mentoring a student in the Waterville public school system, assisting with math and literacy, and serving as a supportive role model.
While a middle-schooler at Park, Caroline was building the skills to advocate for herself as a student in the classroom. As a rising college senior, she is now on a path which she hopes will enable her to advocate for other students through working for just educational policy. Along the way to the important work that we know that Caroline will go on to do, we are thrilled that she will be making a stop at Park as the 2021 Alumni Graduation Speaker.