Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.

"Science Will Save Us" Says 2010 IMSA Commencement Speaker

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Richard Rhodes shared some stories from the past
as lessons for the future during his commencement address to the IMSA Class of 2010.

“Don’t be so focused on your work that you’re blind to what’s going on around you,” Rhodes told the 177 –member IMSA Class of 2010.

Rhodes, author of 23 books and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction, a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award, shared several stories about past scientific discoveries made or missed and the important life lessons to be learned from them.  

One of the stories focused on a 19th Century physicist who was so focused on his research work in photography that he missed what could have been two very important scientific discoveries that were right in front of him.  

“It’s important to stay alert for surprises,” Rhodes said. “You’d be surprised how many scientific discoveries are the result of someone paying attention to seemingly trivial side effects.”

On June 5, 2010, family and friends gathered at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora to honor the IMSA Class of 2010, IMSA’s 22nd graduating class.  See photos from the event here.

Student speakers Michael Mirski of Naperville and Gabrielle Heller of Highland Park also shared some words of wisdom with their fellow classmates.

“…Continue satisfying your intellectual curiosity,” Mirski said.  “Keep igniting your creative minds.  Advance the human condition and don’t let what you learned at IMSA go to waste.”

Heller reflected on her past three years at IMSA, and thanked her classmates, the parents and IMSA staff for their support both inside and outside the classroom.

“At IMSA, we are fortunate to have teachers that are both knowledgeable and who care- in fact- they are the very best of the best.”

IMSA Principal Dr. Eric McLaren challenged graduates to be ethical leaders as they continue their life beyond IMSA.

“Your role is to create a greater good within a community and to influence the ‘right’ direction,” Dr. McLaren said.  “Your challenge is to be clear about what is right and what is good,”  he said.  “Carry on the spirit of IMSA.  Twenty-two graduating classes have come to IMSA to grow into the leaders the world so desperately needs.”

Finally, IMSA President Dr. Glenn “Max” McGee recommended that students be persistent in everything they do.

“In college and career, with friends and family, you will encounter seemingly insurmountable obstacles to hurdle and bottomless chasms to cross,” McGee said.  “There will always be 100 reasons to give up and 100 people telling you what cannot be done.  Persistence is finding that one way to hurdle the object and span the abyss.  You will always find a way to prevail,” he added.  “Persist!”

IMSA President Dr. McGee and Steven T. Isoye, chairman of the IMSA Board of Trustees, presented diplomas and academic medallions to graduates.  Following the ceremony, graduates and their families joined staff members for a reception on campus.

Rhodes ended his address with well wishes to the Class of 2010 and one more  important thought he wanted them to remember.

“Science will save us … if anything will.”