Dr. Noel Bakhtian ’01 Honored During Inaugural Founders’ Day Celebration

On October 20, 2023, Canterbury School hosted its inaugural Founders’ Day Celebration. It was an honor to come together as a family to begin this new tradition, celebrating and acknowledging those who contributed to making Canterbury the school it is today.
“Each of you, whether you are a student, a teacher, a staff member, an alumnus, a parent, grandparent, trustee, or friend of the school, you all have something in common… your love for Canterbury,” said Head of School Rick Kirschner in his opening remarks to the audience.

He went on to add, “I know in my heart that whatever success we have experienced today is due to the love of those who have come before us, who have made this very moment possible."

Canterbury was founded in 1964 as a K-6 school with 10 teachers and 38 students. In January 1971, the school moved to College Parkway and officially moved into the building that we now recognize as the Lower School. From there, the school continued to grow and the first graduating class of seniors was in 1977.

In paying homage to the past and celebrating those who have come before us, it was a privilege to welcome back Dr. Noel Bahktian ’01 as our Distinguished Alumnus Award honoree.

Dr. Bahktian holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and physics from Duke University, a master's in philosophy and engineering from the University of Cambridge, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University. She is currently the Director of Tech Acceleration at the Bezos Earth Fund, the $10 billion philanthropic commitment to fight climate change and protect and restore nature in this decade while advancing environmental justice and economic opportunity.

“As I have been reflecting over the last few weeks on my path from Canterbury to now,” said Dr. Bahktian, “what became apparent is how influential and how foundational my Canterbury life was to who I became and the different paths I found myself on.”

Dr. Bahktian reminisced on her Canterbury days and the teachers that inspired the many passions she has today. She reassured the next generation of leaders that they do not need to have it all figured out. “The magic is in the journey, not the destination.” She encouraged them to not be afraid to say ‘yes’ and to do things that make them feel uncomfortable.

“Thank you to my Canterbury family. It was a privilege to walk into this institution every day for nine years. My path and my future would have looked very different without you,” said Dr. Bahktian in closing.

After a morning of celebration in the Murphy Sports Center, the day was just beginning for Dr. Bahktian.

She and other alumni in attendance took a stroll down memory lane with a tour of the campus. The group then gathered with current student council representatives to learn about all the new opportunities offered at Canterbury since their departure.

In the afternoon, Dr. Bahktian joined Cougar Vision on their podcast and then wrapped up her visit back where it all started, in the Lower School. There, she entertained questions on climate change with our fourth graders who are currently conducting a research capstone project on climate change.

To view photos from the Founders’ Day events, click here.