Acclaimed author Lois Lowry, Guyana official Priya Manickchand impart advice, wisdom to newest master’s, Ph.D. earners.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Honorary degree recipients author Lois Lowry and Guyana Minister of Education Priya Devi Manickchand addressed 1,446 graduates. View photos from Commencement »
Lesley Trustees Chair Deborah Schwartz Raizes welcomed graduates and recalled that when she graduated from Lesley, in 1969, it was a women’s college with 550 students and a very small graduate school.
Looking out on the overflowing crowds of thousands of male and female graduates, faculty, families and friends, she reflected, “Just look how we’ve grown and all the lives you are going to touch and change.”
Lesley President Joseph B. Moore called on graduates to use their talents to serve the public good and respond to challenges.
“Use your education to enhance the public good and support education and economic opportunities for every member of our increasingly divided society,” Moore urged. “Those talents are needed now more than ever.”
He continued, “Do not give up. You will find through determination and practice a place that puts your talents to work.”
Graduate School of Education Honorary Degree Recipient Lois Lowry, award-winning and prolific author of children’s and young-adult books such as “The Giver,” “Number the Stars,” and the Anastasia Krupnik series, was introduced by professor Dr. Stephanie Spadorcia, who spoke of Lowry’s diversity of genres and her numerous awards, including two Newbery Medals.
Lowry began by confessing that she didn’t feel adequate to be giving advice and wisdom to the graduates.
“I can’t think of a reason why you should listen to someone who dropped out of college not once, but three times,” she said. She was, nonetheless, up to the task.
She told a true story from her childhood, when at 10 years old she spent her allowance—a dollar — on an “echo box,” which was supposed to capture words spoken into it and say them back upon the press of a button.
“Today’s 10-year-olds would laugh at such a device,” she said, with their tablets and laptops. But at the time, it was to her a miracle. “I never had a voice, never felt heard. Sometimes you will give everything you have just for a chance to be heard.”
“This is me speaking; this is my voice,” were the words she chose to say into the orange box. But when she pressed the button, all she got was a stabbing pain in her finger, as she encountered a sharp pin. Her lesson, she said to laughter, was, “Never invest all your money in a place that deals in deception.”
“Even though you will encounter some hideous and painful failures,” she added, “your voice must have power.
“Words are important. Use your words, craft them carefully, meticulously — and when you are ready, treat them with care, and even reverence, and caution. Your words will have a stunning amount of power.”Watch Lois Lowry's speech.
Professor Sharlene Cochrane welcomed honorary degree recipient Priya Manickchand and lauded her instrumental role in establishing a relationship between Guyana and Lesley University to develop a unique master’s program for mental health professionals to address the needs of Guyana’s citizens, the first class of which graduated today.
Manickchand, who is the minister of education in Guyana, encouraged Lesley graduates to fight for access to education for people across the globe.
“Education is universally recognized as being one sure way to catalyze change, to improve individual circumstances, to uplift families, to transform communities, to develop countries, to change the human condition for better,” she said.
“You will leave here today with a sound education from Lesley, and that sound education gives you a whole lot of value. That value makes you perfectly poised to be a catalyst of change. … With education you now have a responsibility to use what you have, your body and well-trained mind, to help bring about change.”
Manickchand is a champion for Guyana’s most vulnerable populations, including children, women and the elderly. During her speech, she recalled her homeland — a beautiful, sunny country with the world’s “largest single-drop waterfall” — and said that while South America seems far from Cambridge, Mass., “today’s world is more interconnected than it ever was in human history.”
“We are truly a global village,” she said. “What you do here in your country will affect what happens in mine, and vice versa.”
Manickchand encouraged graduates to join the global cause to attain gender equality, which is connected to pervasive problems of extreme poverty, hunger, health care and educational equality, she said.
“When a girl is not allowed an education somewhere else in the world simply because she is a girl, it will affect your lives, because we are all interconnected,” she said. “Whatever your passion, whatever you plan to pursue, wherever you work, wherever you live, wherever you play, consciously and strategically set to use your value, your training here, to bring about gender equality.”Watch Priya Manickchand's speech.
Graduate School of Education student speaker Jane Clabaugh received her BA from Berea College in 1982. Thirty-two years later, she graduated with her master of education degree in mathematics from Lesley. She is an experienced middle and high school teacher, and, after raising her family, came to Lesley to complete her graduate degree. In her program, she said, she has been challenged, developed relationships with fellow students, and learned mathematical skills and knowledge that she has already incorporated into her classes.
“My students are the fortunate ones here,” she said, “that I was able to complete the Lesley program and learn so much from it.”Watch Jane Clabaugh's speech.
Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences Catherine Koverola wished graduates “a life of continued exploration and joy” in their chosen professions as she introduced student speaker Kaycina Jardine.
Jardine is a member of the first graduating class of social workers and child welfare officers from Guyana earning their master’s degrees at Lesley in a counseling program designed specifically to address pressing social needs in their Caribbean nation. She addressed the commencement audience, honored and humbled by the opportunity, and expressed thanks to her family, classmates, and Lesley colleagues for their support during her journey to graduation. “Working with children has always been a passion of mine,” she said.
She reflected on her residencies on the Lesley campus, during which the difficulty of being far from home was balanced by the thrill of learning and enjoying the Cambridge campuses. She said the university felt huge but welcoming, and that she and her classmates are empowered with new knowledge to provide wellbeing and protection for children and families.
“I’ve always heard the saying to ‘Follow your dreams,’” she reflected, “and I’ve learned that no dream is easy to follow, but it’s worth the journey. … I encourage you, whatever your future path may be, to dream big, love, laugh, and most of all, aspire to be the best you can be.”Watch Kaycina Jardine's speech.
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