"Take notes," she joked to the 84 graduating seniors at the independent all-girls school in Greenwich.

After 29 years, Jones returned to her alma mater to deliver the graduation address under a tent set up on campus. She was introduced by valedictorian Anisha Laumas, who will attend Harvard University this fall.

Laumas smiled as a wave of deafening applause and whoops crashed over her. A Greenwich Academy "lifer," she led the GA robotics club and helped edit Daedalus, just like the commencement speaker she introduced.

"We are so happy to have her back today," Laumas said of Jones.

Like Laumas, Jones was involved in Daedalus, the school's art and literary magazine. Like Laumas, she attended Harvard University. She also completed her doctorate at Columbia University.

"Endings and beginnings can sneak up on you, and both transitions aren't always marked with flowers and songs," Jones said, referencing the song-filled ceremony and yellow roses the girls, dressed in long white dresses, hold while processing in, which they exchange for bouquets at the conclusion.

Jones commended the girls for their accomplishments, grace and humility.

"The world needs leaders who are women," she said.

But the road ahead will be unmarked and full of judgment from others, Jones said.

Up until now, the graduates have received grades and trophies, but no metric "is more important than your own measure of success and fulfillment," she said. "Other people will try to legislate that for you."

Jones prepared the young women for the judgments they will face in college and beyond — just for being women. Others will judge them for their intelligence and competence, their looks and outfits, their choices to have or not have children and how they raise them. They will also be judged for showing emotions, and for trying to invent new leadership styles.

But Jones encouraged them to gain strength from other women.

"The need for support never goes away," she said.

One of the most decorated student-athletes at Greenwich Academy, and a "lifer," Kaitlin Hazlett thanked their teachers for teaching to the person.

"They go beyond the equation, they prepare us for college and guide us to be good people," Hazlett said.

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