This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Justine Coleman.
Future educators crossed the stage at the Smith Center Saturday morning to receive their degrees from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
Speakers encouraged members of the Class of 2016 to acknowledge their achievements and challenged them to consider how to improve education accessibility.
1. Trust in your capabilities
Alumnus Topher Kandik, who was named D.C.’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, reflected on how experiences at GW prepared him for a teaching career.
“I was named 2016 Teacher of the Year in the District of Columbia because George Washington University prepared me for the classroom experience,” he said. “And I want you to trust that it’s going to do the same for you.”
2. Serve the community in your own way
Keynote speaker LaRuby May, a member of the D.C. Council and an alumna, reminded graduates that while they should be proud of themselves, others do not have the opportunities for the same kind of success.
“Be mindful that the privilege of having a vehicle is not measured by how fast you get to your destination, but by how many others you are able to drop off on your way to your destination,” she said.
May added that while the graduates can serve their communities in many ways, having a purpose to work for is most important.
“How will you take this degree that you’ve earned, this access that you’ve been granted, the ideas you’ve created? Wow will you take it and generate a product that provides a service to others?” she said.
3. Work as a team
Michael Feuer, the dean of GSEHD, referenced the plus-minus scoring system in hockey to rate players: Those who are present on the ice when their team scores earn positive points, and those on the ice when the other team scores gain negative points. He compared this system to the group effort of all educators.
“I always liked that because it reminds me that we all have pluses and minuses that success doesn’t happen without some failure along the way,” he said. “And maybe most important is we all share in the responsibility for how our whole team does.”
3. ‘We are together’
Student speaker Jennifer Romba, who received a master’s degree in international education, stressed that the Class of 2016 should promote change through education and fight for accessibility to education around the world.
“We know this change can’t happen overnight because education is a ripple effect that begins in institutions like this and with educators like us,” she said.
When Romba was in the Peace Corps, she traveled to Rwanda to teach children. While she was there, she said the word “turikumwe” stuck with her, which means “we are together.”
“As we go forward, I pass onto you my fellow graduates, my fellow educators a charge to remember that the future will be built, ‘turikumwe,’ together,” Romba said.
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