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Zhu tells students to embrace all Culver Girls Academy has to offer

Vivian Jiao. Vedette staff writer

Sophia Alvarez '24 (right) points to the new crest for Avery Loehr '27. (Photo by Tom Coyne)


Erin Zhu ’24 encouraged Culver Girls Academy students at the annual Crest Ceremony to embrace the full spectrum of experiences the school has to offer, no matter the challenges they face.

“You are already in the midst of a transformative experience. You are already doing more than you may realize,” she said during her speech Sunday afternoon.

To encourage the girls, Zhu (Elgin, Illinois) shared her cresting experiences during the pandemic. All the students were required to sit apart from each other at the dining hall and weren’t allowed in each other’s room in order to prevent the virus from spreading. However, she still made friends while maintaining the social distance.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

She said it’s great that our life has become normal again, but she encouraged the girls to step out of their comfort zones.

“Throughout your CGA journey, you will discover that success often requires taking calculated risks and stepping out of your comfort zone. Resilience and discipline are essential,” she said.


Erin Zhu encouraged students at Culver Girls Academy to step out of their comfort zones and try new things. (Photo by Tom Coyne)


Finally, she encouraged the girls to try new things. She told the girls that she tried out for the Culver rowing team twice. She quit after the first day both times.

“I encourage you to challenge yourself and know that failure is OK,” she said.

Tradition and Innovation

Following Zhu’s speech, Dean Caren Standfast talked about what the 109 new CGA students had learned since arriving at school.

“Our new students have come to understand that our conscientious care for Culver’s tradition safeguards its unique leadership development program. Within our gates, we are steeped with tradition yet unafraid of innovation.”

Since August, with the support from all the dorm chairs, honor representatives, and counselors, all new girls went through the cresting lessons and filled out their Crest books. They successfully went through the process to officially become part of CGA.

Standfast, who was overseeing her first Crest Ceremony as dean told the girls that they should appreciate the exceptional legacy of Mary Frances England, the founding dean of CGA in 1971.

CGA Dean Caren Standfast told girls the crest symbolizes their shared goals and aspirations. (Photo by Tom Coyne)


Culver embraces diversity and celebrates sisterhoods, and it takes a significant role during the cresting process. All new girls are required to memorize the Code of Conduct and the Diversity Code from Culver before cresting.

Symbol Behind Cresting

“The Crest symbolizes shared goals and aspirations, both as a united community and as individuals,” Standfast said. “Under the Crest, each CGA student strives to make a positive impact on the world. Your tenacity, compassion, and boldness inspire all of us and inspire CGA to adapt in a changing world.”

She then congratulated the girls for their significant milestone.

“May your journey ahead be filled with shared experiences, growth and the joy of creating stories together,” she said.


Shannon Li '27 holds up her certificate with Prajna Tammana '26. (Photo by Tom Coyne)




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