After traveling the world with such dignitaries as Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, Elizabeth Leist will make a stop at Deerfield Academy on graduation day as the commencement speaker for the Class of 2009.
At Deerfield, Ms. Leist won the Headmaster’s Award her senior year and was the treasurer for Student Council, captain of the girls’ varsity swim team, and a proctor.
After graduating from Cornell University in 2001, she began working for NBC where she is the State Department Producer for NBC news—a position she has held for three years.
This past January, after Ms. Leist covered the historic inauguration of President Obama, she began reporting on the new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In February, she travelled to Japan, Indonesia, and China during Clinton’s first overseas trip as Secretary of State.
Ms. Leist also joined NBC’s White House team for President Obama’s first major overseas trip to Europe and Turkey. On this visit, Ms. Leist reported on the G20 Meeting, NATO summit, and President Obama’s speech to the Turkish Parliament.
To select the speaker, Head of School Margarita Curtis “spoke with Chair of Student Council Scottie Thompson [’09] and Student Body President Tom Hanson [’09] who, in turn, talked to classmates, and by early fall, we had compiled a list of eight to ten potential candidates.”
A major factor in choosing the commencement speaker is his or her connection to Deerfield in hopes of avoiding, “a more generic commencement speech,” Hanson explained, “She’s the first alum who graduated since we returned to coeducation to come back for commencement, so she knows Deerfield the way we all do.”
Ms. Curtis said, “This year, we chose someone who understands what Deerfield is all about.”