Alumni Spotlight: Amira Parker, ’14
The spotlight should certainly shine brilliantly on this bright, joyful, independent, young woman! Amira Parker graduated from PMFS in 2014, after attending from Kindergarten through 6th grade. Invited to be the guest speaker at the graduation of PMFS’s Class of 2020, Amira shared encouraging and insightful words with our 6th grade graduates.
Amira speaks very highly of her time at PMFS. She states, “I would love it if I could have just one more day at Plymouth!” She recalls creating strong friendships and laughs at a memory from 5th grade when her class got to have a sleepover in the school gym. Amira recognizes that her elementary education not only prepared her academically for middle school, but also socially. PMFS empowered her to step out of her comfort zone while being true to herself. While at PMFS, Amira enjoyed learning about nature and spending time outdoors. She attributes her love for the environment to Mike Greene, her PMFS Science teacher. Amira also recognizes that her love of travel and other cultures can be tied to PMFS’s 5th grade Mexican Exchange program, when she had the opportunity to live with a family in Mexico for two weeks. After that, she had the confidence and desire to travel the world.
Amira went on to Abington Friends School. There she thrived on the tennis team, took every opportunity to travel (collecting data on bison and bear in Yellowstone National Park and spending five weeks on an exchange program in Tasmania) and discovered that collaborative work and helping others is a passion for her. Amira recently graduated with the AFS class of 2020 and will go on to study Environmental Engineering with a minor in Spanish or Art at the University of Pittsburgh this Fall. Good luck Amira!
Amira’s inspiring speech to the PMFS class of 2020:
I would like to start off by congratulating you all! You did it! Your time as a PMFS student has sadly come to an end. I can’t believe it’s been six years since I’ve been a Plymouth student. It feels like just yesterday that my classmates and I were gearing up for the circus, that Leann gave us our first letters from our Mexican buddies, and that Varley was telling us to take a lap because we wouldn’t stop talking. I always tell people that Plymouth Meeting Friends is my heart. I truly feel like this community is always with me and part of me. The love that I have for this school runs deep and is beyond anything I could have ever asked for.
I’m not going to lie, I was extremely nervous to graduate. My guess is that you’re nervous right now too. It’s completely normal to be nervous and scared for change, especially a change of this magnitude. But, let me tell you, Plymouth has prepared you extremely well for anything and everything that your next chapter brings. It might not feel like it now, but you’re ready and Plymouth will always be a part of you. Plymouth is your home that will always be there for you to come back to.
I know this isn’t how you expected your last year at Plymouth to end. I’m with you, I feel your anger, pain, and sadness. But, remember all the amazing memories you were able to make with your friends. Find comfort in knowing that this community will always love and support you and the friends you’ve made here will be with you for life.
Being a Plymouth student is an amazing privilege that I’m so lucky I got to experience. You’ve been given an unparalleled environment to truly grow and not only learn about yourself and your passions, but how your actions affect the people around you and the environment. This is extremely valuable because you now have skills, passions, experiences, and knowledge that most people won’t have in their entire lives.
There are three things that have especially stuck with me that I’ve learned at Plymouth and I want to share them with you in hopes that you too carry them into your life. The first one is to be your own individual. PMFS gives you the opportunity to explore every part of yourself. Whether that be athletics, academics, art, or wherever your passions lie. Don’t lose sight of what makes you, you. At PMFS you learned that who you are is enough. Show up as your true, unapologetic self each and every day.
The next is to be an advocate for yourself and others. Plymouth teaches you how to see your inner power. You are brave, you are fearless, and you are courageous. You are ready to be an active member of your next community. Don’t let anyone else tell you or others your worth. You know your worth. Speak up for those who don’t have a voice. Create a safe space for people who might otherwise not have one. Hear and listen to all sides of the story. You have the ability to see the world in so many different ways and perspectives. Use that to your advantage and to help others.
And the last but certainly not least is to step outside of your comfort zone. Stepping onto that plane in 5th grade was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to do. But I’m so happy I did. That trip opened so many possibilities for relationships, interests, and just pure curiosity for me. From that trip, I developed a love for traveling and learning new cultures and languages. Since then, I’ve studied abroad by myself in Tasmania, Australia; I’ve researched Bison in Yellowstone; and I’ve had countless other incredible opportunities that Plymouth prepared me for.
And with that I want to send you off with a couple words from the queen herself, Michelle Obama, “Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered.” I hope you friends encounter nothing but love and success in your next journey. I am so proud of you and everything you’ve accomplished.