Celebrating 125 Years of Commitment to Children and Families
Under beautiful sunny skies, Wheelock College today held Commencement Ceremonies celebrating the College's 125th anniversary. Wheelock holds two separate ceremonies, one in the morning for undergraduates and a second in the afternoon for graduate students.
The 2013 commencement theme, "Celebrating 125 Years of Commitment to Children and Families," truly reflects the life work of the three influential advocates for the rights and education of children who received honorary doctor of education degrees during the undergraduate ceremony.
The honorary degree recipients were: Mark K. Shriver, Hubert E. Jones, and Thekla R. Shackelford.
Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony
In a 10 a.m. ceremony at Temple Israel, Wheelock awarded undergraduate degrees to 182 students. Wheelock President Jackie Jenkins-Scott said the undergraduate Class of 2013 has made a lasting impact on Wheelock and the surrounding community. The class raised more money and contributed more to nonprofit organizations than any previous class.
"We can't wait to see the impact you will make on the world," said Jenkins-Scott. "What we hope is that whatever you pursue, you will always be an advocate on behalf of children and families, living out Wheelock's mission. We need more leaders committed to service. We hope you will leave here with the knowledge and confidence that you can make a difference, that you can inspire a world of good."
Mark K. Shriver gave the Undergraduate Commencement address. Shriver is a children's advocate focused on advancing the rights of every child in America to have a safe and vibrant childhood. Shriver currently leads Save the Children's U.S. Programs, which works to ensure a fair start for all children in the United States and has spent his has career fighting for social justice in advocacy and service organizations, as well as serving as an elected office.
In his speech, Shriver talked about the lasting legacy of his father, Sargent Shriver, who founded a host of groundbreaking social programs such as the Peace Corps, Legal Services, Vista, and Head Start. Shriver said that while researching his book, "A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver," he kept encountering ordinary people—drivers, waitresses, garbage men—who told him they knew his father, told of many small acts of kindness, and described him simply as "a good man." Shriver said his father's faith in God and his acts of hope throughout life were what defined him, not his many great accomplishments.
"Goodness was more important to my father than greatness," Shriver told the graduates. "You're committing to caring for vulnerable children and families when a lot of people look the other way. What is truly important in life is not the pursuit of money and adulation. What's truly important is to accept the invitation to create a just, caring, and safe world for children and families."
Oginga Walters, who graduated from Wheelock College with a double major in Human Development Focused in Psychology and Elementary Education, with a minor in History, delivered the 2013 student speech at the Undergraduate Ceremony. Walters talked about being influenced by a middle-school teacher who told his students that their success depended solely on their ability to overcome obstacles themselves and that "luck was for the unprepared."
"As we move on in our lives from here I cannot guarantee that there will not be difficulties and hardships but I do believe that no matter how tough things get I know we will not need luck to get through them," Walters said. "My hope is that through our course of study here at Wheelock that we are crossing this stage today with tools of having creating and open minds, well-honed skills for our practice, and an enduring sense of social justice that will enable us to improve the world after we have graduated from Wheelock College."
During the ceremony, the 2013 Cynthia Longfellow Teaching Recognition Award was presented to Dr. Jenne Powers, Assistant Professor of Humanities and Writing, Director of the Writing Center. The 2013 Edward H. Ladd Award for Academic Excellence and Service was presented to Dr. Barbara Rosenquest, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education.
Graduate Commencement Ceremony
In a 2 p.m. ceremony in Wheelock Family Theatre, Wheelock awarded master's degrees to 134 graduate students. Wheelock President Jackie Jenkins-Scott described the graduates as courageous advocates for a just society. "I believe by your own personal actions and choices, you have made a bold and courageous choice to advocate on behalf of children and families," Jenkins-Scott said. "We look forward with great anticipation and appreciation to the contribution we know you will make to the world."
Hubert E. Jones delivered the Graduate Commencement address. Jones is dean emeritus of the Boston University School of Social Work and an advocate for the rights of children since 1957. His impact on legislation and public policy, human service delivery, educational opportunity for all citizens in Massachusetts is unparalleled. In his role as a community leader and advocate, Jones founded, helped establish, or led over 30 community-based organizations in the greater Boston area.
In his address, Jones told the students that recent acts of violence have put the American people on edge, creating a huge need for dedicated and caring teachers, social workers, nonprofit leaders, and other social sector professionals. "We need you to use your knowledge and gifts to contribute to social healing. We need to get to a far better place. It is a tall order... "As graduates of Wheelock, you know your responsibility is to weigh in with all the advocacy power at your command. The future of our country depends on your commitment and your action."
He advised the graduates that wherever they go to work, they should make sure they find an organization with a soul, meaning one that embraces humanitarian values, allocates resources fairly, and fairly adjudicates mistakes. "A joyless workplace is a drag," Jones said. "Don't stand for it."
Heather Vogel, who graduated from Wheelock College with a Master of Social Work degree and a certificate in Organizational Leadership, gave the student speech at the Graduate Ceremony. Vogel's speech was a 5-minute crash course on the change process as a graduate student at Wheelock College.
"As a Wheelock grad, my purpose and my passion gives my life meaning," Vogel said. "Knowing I can assist and provide individuals, organizations, communities and society with resources necessary to be successful in the change process, is empowering. Human life is not black and white. It is grey, messy, uncomfortable, often functioning in the unknown and it is the context in which we will all practice in."