Graduate Commencement Day

May 16, 2014

Jackie Jenkins Scott.The members of Wheelock's Graduate Class of 2014 celebrated Commencement on May 16, hearing several calls to continue living Wheelock's mission of improving the lives of children and families.

"The liberty of the individual and the pursuit of happiness depends on the liberty for ALL and the happiness for ALL," President Jackie Jenkins-Scott told the graduates "So, we hope you leave Wheelock as a courageous, passionate advocate for a just society."

Keynote Speaker David C. Banks, president and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation, told graduates about his circuitous path to becoming an advocate for quality education. He started college as an engineering major before switching to political science and then attending law school. While working as a district attorney, he discovered his passion for education and decided to become a school administrator. He needed a second master's degree, but only had one semester to earn the 24 credits required if he was to switch jobs within the year. When one college said he could only take a maximum of 15 credits per term, he got a brainstorm to take classes simultaneously at three different colleges. 

"When you focus on something, have a clear goal, and put in the work to make it happen, the universe will conspire to make it happen," he said.

Student Performances

Chelsey Ballard '14MS opened the ceremony with a lovely vocal rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Student Speaker Natasha M. Antoniak '14MS told a parable about mankind's endless struggle between good and evil and encouraged her classmates to make the world a better place by "feeding the good."

"So how can we also inspire a world of good and improve the lives of those around us?" she asked. "In short, we too, must 'feed the good.' I believe this can happen as we internalize as well as employ the education we've received here as we go throughout the world and communities before us."

"Feeding the good leads to healing, resilience, and the perpetuation of more good," Antoniak said. "Therefore, when we witness injustice, we must continue to stand and advocate and, thus, feed the good. When we face fierce disagreements or see conflict amidst communities, we must seek to genuinely understand rather than dismiss others and, thus, feed the good. When we see the lonely, poor in spirit, outcast and ill, we must love them—not avoid or neglect them—and feed the good."

Honorary Degrees

Earlier in the day at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony, Wheelock recognized three honorary degree recipients, talented leaders who embody the spirit of the undergraduate and graduate Commencement theme of "Innovation. Access. Opportunity." Receiving honorary degrees were: Howard K. Koh, David C. Banks, and Mary Tiseo.

Howard KohHoward K. Koh

Undergraduate commencement speaker Dr. Howard K. Koh serves as the 14th Assistant Secretary for Health for the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Koh is dedicated to the mission of creating better public health systems for prevention and care so that all people can reach their highest attainable standard of health. Dr. Koh has close ties to Boston having served as Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1997-2003) and his son, Daniel Arrigg Koh, serves as Chief of Staff to Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

As Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Koh oversees 12 public health offices, and implements an array of interdisciplinary programs relating to disease prevention, health promotion, the reduction of health disparities, women's and minority health, adolescent health, HIV/AIDS, chronic infections diseases, and health fitness and promotion.

David BanksDavid C. Banks

Graduate commencement speaker David C. Banks is the President and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation. He was the founding principal of the Eagle Academy for Young Men, the first school in a network of innovative all-boys public schools in New York City. Since opening in 2004, the Eagle Academy family has grown to include a total of three schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, and is expanding its vision to Newark and other cities in the United States.

Eagle Academy is based on the belief that a nurturing institution which believes that excellence, both in character and scholarship, opens doors and provides a bridge to equality. Since its inception, Eagle Academy has graduated young men who are making a difference in their communities and in the nation.

Mary TiseoMary Tiseo

An honorary degree will also be awarded to Mary Tiseo, Executive Director of South Africa Partners, a nonprofit organization facilitating mutually beneficial partnerships between U.S. and South Africa in the areas of health and education.

Working with community organizations, academic institutions, and state and local government, SA Partners brings together practitioners from both countries who are committed to addressing social, political, and economic needs in a manner that strengthens communities, builds institutional capacity, and fosters local leadership.

For more information visit: www.wheelock.edu/commencement.

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