Commencement 2009

Speaking Truth • Inspiring Action

Graduates, their families, faculty, and guests gathered at Temple Israel on Friday, May 15 to celebrate Wheelock's 121st Commencement. Members of Wheelock's class of 2009 received their bachelor's degrees, and graduate candidates received master's degrees.

This year's Commencement theme, "Speaking Truth: Inspiring Action," was underscored by the presentation of honorary degrees to three distinguished individuals: Louis Gossett, Jr. , award-winning actor and founder of the Eracism Foundation; Dr. Howard Gardner , prolific author and Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and Margot Stern Strom , founder and executive director of Facing History and Ourselves.

Reflecting on this year's theme, President Jackie Jenkins-Scott said, "Truth speaking is needed more than ever and the need for inspired action is evident all around us."

Mr. Gossett also delivered the commencement address . Just before the graduates received their degrees, Mr. Gossett warned against violence and racism. "Whenever we tear at the fabric of life," he said, "the whole nation is degraded." He praised Wheelock's progressive efforts against injustice and discrimination. Mr. Gossett told the graduates, "The most important commodity on this planet is you."

President Jenkins-Scott welcomed the friends and family of the graduates. "We are so pleased to have you with us as we bear witness to this milestone accomplishment of our graduates," she said. Addressing the graduates, President Jenkins-Scott also conveyed her hopes for this newest class of Wheelock alumni.

"With the excellent education and outstanding opportunities you have received, we also hope you leave here with the courage, the compassion, and the commitment to speak truth for what is right and just-it is the only way you will truly live up to our mission to improve the lives of children and families. It is what we expect of you and it should be no less than you expect of yourselves."

Undergraduate student speaker Robert Baez , a human development major, told his classmates, "We are ending a chapter in the book of our lives, but we must continue to live out Wheelock's mission to improve the lives of children and families."

"Change is a lesson we all have learned during our time at Wheelock," Baez concluded. "We must seek change, create change, and live change."

Graduate student speaker Eileen Carranza , who received a master of social work (MSW), said "This diploma can now aid us with that vision, to begin to serve humanity to the best of our capacity, to live up to the ideals of our righteous professions, and begin to serve humankind while bringing forth the best in ourselves."

Vice President of Academic Affairs Julie Wollman presented two faculty awards. Felicity Crawford , Assistant Professor of Special Education, was awarded the Dr. Cynthia Longfellow Teaching Award for her "strategic commitment to academic excellence and community involvement."

Petra Hesse , Associate Professor of Human Development, was presented with the Edward H. Ladd Award for her commitment to and celebration of her students.

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