Saha Khaterzai '08 to Give Commencement Keynote
Saha Khaterzai '08 to Give Commencement Keynote

Ms. Saha Khaterzai '08, a Presidential Management Fellow in the Health Division of the White House Office of Management and Budget, will deliver the keynote address at the School's 107th Commencement ceremony on Friday, June 2, 2017.

Ms. Khaterzai, who is also a graduate of the University of Virginia's College of Arts and Sciences (2013) and Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy (2014), provides budget and policy recommendations on the private health insurance market

Prior to her current position, Khaterzai worked as a policy advisor at the White House Office of Management and Budget, a research assistant at The Brookings Institution, and a press and public diplomacy intern at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, among other positions.

"Saha is a shining example of a young alumna who has followed her passions and created a career based on not only academic interests and achievements but societal concerns as well," said Head of School David Lourie.

From June through August of 2009, Khaterzai served as an intern for Dr. Frozan Fanaa, one of two female candidates in the Afghan presidential elections. Her work in Kabul, Afghanistan was a return to the city her family left in September, 2001 when she was 10 years old.

"Moving to a foreign country with a different culture and language can be quite challenging on its own," said Khaterzai. "However, one of the most challenging aspect of relocating was probably the timing of our move. We moved here very shortly after 9/11 and it was difficult to be a Muslim refugee family from Afghanistan in that environment. Given my age, I didn't fully understand the nuance and the complexity of the debates at that time, or people's attitudes."

Khaterzai credits Mrs. Laura Robertson as one of the most influential teachers during her time at the School, which began in high school.

"I came to St. Anne's-Belfield as a freshman, having only lived in the U.S. for a couple of years before that," she said. "I was in Mrs. Robertson's ESL class. She not only taught me English, but mentored me during my four years at the School. She went above and beyond her responsibilities to ensure I adjusted well, and invested a lot of time in my success. I had similar experiences with my other teachers as well in the sense that they invested in their students outside of the classroom. "

Taking part in an optional civil rights seminar that met outside of typical school hours also helped Khaterzai in expressing her views and engaging in thoughtful debate.

"One of the most valuable skills I learned at the School was how to delve deeply into a complex set of issues with the aim of providing a meaningful solution," she said. "St. Anne's-Belfield taught me how to debate ideas and how to approach interconnected challenges. Those skills not only prepared me for college but also for my present career... it was at the School where I developed the ability to think critically."

In addition to Ms. Khaterzai's speech and the conferral of diplomas, the graduation ceremony will include the presentation of five awards and prizes:

  • The Malone Prize — recognizing a member of the School's community for loyalty, service and contributions to School life;
  • The Michael E. Waylett Service Award — honoring a teacher or staff member whose extraordinary dedication and service extends beyond the classroom;
  • The Diana Edwards Smith Teaching Mastership — awarded since 1987, the highest teaching award given in the academic year;
  • The Bishop's Prize and the Class of 1974 Award — the highest awards for a senior class girl and boy, respectively.

The graduation ceremony will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the Conway Convocation Center on the School's Belfield Campus (799 Faulconer Drive). Seating will be limited to graduates and their guests.

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