About 300 students from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development gathered Saturday to celebrate their graduation from the program, which offers degrees in areas like international education, higher education administration and education policy.
The ceremony also marked 60 years since Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court case that overturned segregation in public schools.
Here are the top moments from the event:
1. Ready for the future
Introducing GSEHD Dean Michael Feuer, graduate Dalphine Antoinette Joppy thanked the school’s faculty for making her degree a worthwhile pursuit.
“Every paper, project, internship experience was relevant and rigorous,” said Joppy, who studied educational administration and policy. “I’ve been equipped with qualities necessary for success in life and in my field.”
She thanked the professors who guided her research and encouraged her to share her opinions about complex issues.
2. Don’t let pessimism “puncture your passion.”
Feuer urged graduates to always see the glass as half-full, even when the data tells a darker picture.
He highlighted statistics that show major income and inequality gaps in the U.S.: 60 years after the Supreme Court’s ruling on segregation, only 14 percent of whites are in schools that can be considered multicultural.
“There is still much work to be done,” Feuer said. “No single one of us can solve all these problems, can dismantle inequity or deliver fully on the promises made at the birth of our Republic.”
This spring, Feuer led a team of researchers to analyze inequality in D.C. public schools and assess the effects of controversial school reforms. He reminded graduates Saturday to not give up in the face of lagging progress.
“Watching you this morning, I see a parade of the passionate, and you have rekindled my optimism yet again,” Feuer said. “You are the hope, the antidote to pessimism.”
3. Be an agent of change.
Cora Marrett, deputy director of the National Science Foundation, gave the keynote address. Encouraging graduates to live out the school’s mission statement, Marrett called on them to use their classroom experiences and research projects to become “agents of change.”
Marrett also pointed to signs of progress in the education system, such as the rise in the number of students graduating from high school since 1983.
“Perhaps no one can single-handedly change the makeup of the science and engineering workforce or close the gaps in opportunity, but consider how powerful the actions of the collectivity can be,” Marrett said.
4. Use your minute
David Surratt, the associate dean of students at the University of California, Berkeley, took to the podium as the student speaker of the event.
Surratt earned a doctorate in higher education administration Saturday. The son of a black father from Oklahoma and an immigrant mother from South Korea, Surratt was the first member of his family to go to college – let alone receive a Ph.D.
After reflecting on hist time in GSEHD, Surratt encouraged his fellow graduates to find joy in serving others as they pursue careers in education.
“Just a tiny little minute, but an eternity is in it,” Surratt said. “That minute contains our eternity and it symbolizes the moment in our lives when we have a ripple effect in society as each of us dedicates our passion to impact others.”