Alumni News and Stories
Kay Madati '91, the global vice president and head of content partnerships at Twitter, told members of the Class of 2019 today that they have been given the granted the "privilege and responsibility" of making an impact on the world.
"You all have been given a gift," he said. "When you know how to think, it empowers you more than knowing what to think. This is Riverdale's true gift. You've been taught how to figure it out, how to critically think and apply it to whatever endeavor you choose."
Madati, a Tanzanian citizen born in Norway, was raised in the U.K. His birth mother died when he was 13, and he and his 12-year-old brother were adopted by American friends who brought them to New York. His Riverdale experience was transformative.
"Riverdale has always been more than just a school," he said. "It is, and will always be, the place that literally changed my life, where teachers, coaches, deans, cared more than they should, where friends, many of whom are here today, were found and have endured through the ages, where a sense of purpose was developed, where confidence was built, where leadership was taught, where character was molded, where perseverance through challenge was modeled."
Madati offered five pieces of advice to the graduates.
He advised them to "unleash the power of the gift you have been given here" and use critical thinking to make a difference. He told them to be "brave enough to live your authentic self" and to "get up when you are knocked down."
He urged them to seek diverse experiences. "I will never undervalue how the breadth of diversity has expanded my knowledge of the things that really matter in this world," he said. "If you leave this exclusive enclave of privilege and years from now only have a circle of friends and family who only looks like you, and thinks like you, and lives like you, then you have failed." Finally, he said, "try to matter."
Megan McArdle '90 speaks to students after her talk.
Megan McArdle '90, a columnist for The Washington Post and author of "The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success," spoke at an Upper School assembly today as part of the Class of 1957 Speaker Series.
McArdle, whose columns have a libertarian perspective, encouraged students to think about issues from multiple perspectives and to tolerate others who may have radically different points of view.
Similarly, she encouraged students to approach their own life decisions with an open mind. "Wander around and try stuff," she said.
"Your lives are going to have way more randomness than you expect now," she said. "There are no guarantees."
She continued: "That is why I love journalism — it's about not knowing what you are doing and figuring it out. Your lives are going to be like that too. You're going to figure it out."
Watch her talk here.
Coach Al Davis at the Buzzell Games in 2013. Photo by Robert Kenas '60.
Coach Al Davis, a decorated World War II veteran who began a legendary career at Riverdale in 1953 and worked at the school for most of his life, died early today at his home. He was 94.
Head of School Dominic A.A. Randolph called a special Middle and Upper School assembly this afternoon to announce the news to students and faculty. Here is a video of his remarks. A close friend of Al's, Kent Kildahl, the former head of the Upper School and a member of the English department, also gave a remembrance of Al as did Carol Pouliot, dean of the Class of '21 and a member of the Physical Education/Athletics departments.
Coach Davis was a beloved physical education teacher and coach. In his later years, he served as the school archivist. The Class of 1964 established an annual teaching award in his name and the Al Davis Scholar-Athlete Award is given annually to a male and female athlete. His life story inspired a video made in 2015.
"On this sad day, I thought it appropriate to share with you the words associated with the Al Davis Teaching Award: Al taught us that we are capable of great things but only with our fullest effort; that full effort is a joyous act and transforms failure into a kind of success; that community is a precious thing; that we are all individuals and that the highest act of an individual is to contribute to a team; and that teaching -- and learning -- at its highest level transcends the walls of a classroom and the demands of a curriculum and is finally an act of mutual respect, commitment, and love," Randolph said in a letter to the community.
A memorial service will be held at the school. Remembrances of Al may be shared with Robin Gottlieb, Director of Alumni Affairs and Institutional Engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.