Commencement 2011

Advocating on Behalf of Children: Inspiring a World of Good

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Graduates, their families, faculty, and guests gathered at Temple Israel on Friday, May 13, 2011 to celebrate Wheelock College's 123rd Commencement.

Approximately 240 graduates received a degree or certificate, including the bachelor of science, bachelor of arts, bachelor of social work, master of science, master of social work, and graduate certificate in organizational leadership.

Wheelock bestowed honorary degrees on three exceptional individuals who truly embody this year's Commencement theme of "Advocating on Behalf of Children: Inspiring a World of Good." Our honorees were: Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, who also served as Commencement Speaker; Smith College Professor of English Language and Literature Eric Reeves; and Co-Founder of the Child Care Information Exchange Bonita Schon Neugebauer.

In her Commencement address, Mary Robinson praised the Wheelock students for the commitment to service they have shown. Noting that she has been involved in promoting human rights for her entire career, Robinson described her new foundation's current initiative of expanding the definition of human rights to include "climate justice." This initiative by the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice seeks to take the focus off of polarizing arguments about climate change science and instead put it on they ways that poor and disenfranchised people around the world are being affected by climate shocks. For example, Robinson said she recently traveled to Bangladesh, where farmers who are facing a climate that includes far more frequent cyclones are seeking out new strains of rice that can grow in brackish water.

Robinson said the rest of the world needs to hear more about the climate challenges that people around the world are facing so that the burden of dealing with climate change does not rest solely on the shoulders of poor people like those in Bangladesh. She encouraged the Wheelock graduates to include climate education in their future classrooms. "I want to seek your help so we can change the conversation on climate change and do it with the help of children," she said. "In every classroom in the world, children should be learning about climate change and what they can do." Robinson encouraged the graduates to live and teach the three R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. "We have only one world," she said. "So, let's pass it on to our children and our children's children."

Both the undergraduate and graduate student Commencement speakers reflected on the call to service that led them to Wheelock.

The undergraduate student speaker, Brittany Wheaton, noted that the graduates have collectively given over 15,000 hours of community service. "Wheelock's mission coupled with our own individual ideologies, has naturally compelled us to challenge our norms, transcend our prejudices and shatter our doubts," she said. "This transformation has merited this senior class the courage to rebuild the wards of New Orleans, face the slave castles of West Africa, Learn Spanish to teach children in Mexico, and mentor hundreds of children and youth in Boston...We have worked to change the world, and the world has become us."

The graduate student speaker, Sobhan Namvar, encouraged the students to continue on the their path to becoming "professional change agents." "Let's use this opportunity and education to kick down doors to injustices around the world, and let's start at home," he said. "As we sit next to each other today, let's soak in the joy of these moments and use our oneness as strength for the journeys ahead. Thank you all for your passion and hope that you represent through your hard work."

Schedule of Events

Graduates Breakfast
Date: Friday, May 13, 2011
Time: 8 a.m.
Location: Home of President Jackie Jenkins-Scott (295 Kent St., Brookline)
All graduates and their guests were invited to a breakfast at the home of President Jackie Jenkins-Scott on the morning of Commencement.

Commencement
Date: Friday, May 13, 2011
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Temple Israel, 47 Longwood Ave., Boston, 02215

Commencement Reception
Date: Friday, May 13, 2011
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Campus Center
All graduates and guests were invited to attend a reception in the Campus Center immediately following the Commencement ceremony.

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