Just hours after the relocation of the historic 18th-century Bray School building, the power of education was prevalent at Friday’s Charter Day ceremony.
The annual event recognizes William & Mary’s founding in 1693 through British royal charter ― celebrating the institution’s birthday.
During her Charter Day speech, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called education a pillar in the story of America, a country in which education is “seen as an equalizer and essential to America’s greatness and prosperity” but where the opportunity to get an education has not always been available to all.
Thomas-Greenfield, a longtime diplomat who now is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was one of two honorary degree recipients recognized at Charter Day. Philanthropist and 1961 William & Mary graduate Barbara “Bobbie” Berkeley Ukrop, a former member of the Board of Visitors and William & Mary Foundation, was the other.
Thomas-Greenfield described coming from humble means in Louisiana, growing up with parents who hadn’t finished high school and attending segregated schools. When she went to do her undergraduate work at Louisiana State University, she said she often felt out of place as one of the few Black students.
“Despite these adversities, my education more than anything got me to where I am today,” said Thomas-Greenfield, who now serves as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.