Rebecca Tone '19 Delivers 2024 Cum Laude Address

Rebecca Tone '19 Delivers 2024 Cum Laude Address

Thanks to Rebecca Tone ’19, a JD/MSFS candidate at Georgetown University concentrating in International Law and Global Politics & Security, who returned to campus on Friday, April 19 to deliver the Cum Laude Address at a special All-School Meeting. In her address, Rebecca reflected on the lessons she learned in the five years since graduating from MBS — the myth of the perfect college experience, the importance of charting your own path to success, and the power of personal connection.

At MBS, Rebecca was the Valedictorian at the 2019 Commencement ceremony and also received the Class Leader Award and the Dickinson W. Richards Cup for character, scholarship, leadership, and service. 

In 2023, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Georgetown University, earning a B.S. in Foreign Service with a major in Culture & Politics and a double minor in Environmental Studies and Russian Literature & Culture. She is now pursuing a joint J.D./M.S.F.S. degree at Georgetown University Law Center and Georgetown University Master of Science in Foreign Service and has been accepted into Georgetown’s Global Law Scholars Program.

Outside of her studies at Georgetown, Rebecca has worked at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of European & Eurasian Affairs, as well as the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. She has also been part of the Policy & Government Affairs department at WWF, served as a research assistant to a former U.S. Ambassador, and worked on a Congressional campaign in New Jersey.

In her Cum Laude speech, Rebecca offered the students a glimpse into her personal college experience in hopes that “my reflections on this confusing, exciting, overwhelming, surprising time in my own life can at least help you shape the next five years in a way that is meaningful to you.”

After COVID derailed her first few semesters at Georgetown, Rebecca came to the conclusion that perhaps the blissful college experience she had been hearing about her whole life was a myth. “The real issue is that we as a society set impossible expectations, and then endlessly beat ourselves up for not achieving them,” she said.

She also began to challenge the idea that there is only one correct way to live a fulfilling life. “It often feels like we’re required to follow some societally-imposed formula in order to be considered academically, socially, and professionally successful,” she said. “But in my experience, life is a lot more rewarding when you treat your needs and opinions as valid, and give yourself permission to reject external expectations that don’t serve you.”

Rebecca also said that the pandemic gave her a whole new appreciation for the power of human connection. “At the most basic level, catching up with the person sitting next to you in class, chatting with a neighbor in a common room of your college dorm, or even quickly waving to a friend as you walk past each other on campus creates a sense of community that’s hard to describe. These seemingly insignificant interactions can completely change the course of a day, whether it’s just by providing a subtle reminder of our shared humanity, or by sparking a lasting friendship,” she said.

In her closing remarks, Rebecca urged the students to “open yourselves up to new connections and opportunities — both inside and outside the classroom. Be willing to make yourselves vulnerable,” she said.  “And as you navigate the excitement and chaos of the next several years, remember to give yourselves grace — college may not be the absolute best four years of your entire life, but I’m confident that each of you will fill this time with some pretty amazing experiences.”


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