Good evening Dean Videka; Dr. Guilamo-Ramos, director of the doctoral program; distinguished members of the faculty, fellow graduates, and guests.
It is a great honor to stand here tonight on behalf of my fellow graduates. I would like to express my deepest gratitude tonight for all those who helped make this day possible. First, I am grateful for my parents who have sacrificed throughout my life to see my dreams fulfilled, and for my friends who always brought timely words of encouragement. I am also thankful for my mentor Dr. Carol Tosone, my committee members Dr. James Jaccard and Theresa Aiello, and for the entire doctoral faculty who imparted their knowledge and experience to me.
As I look out among my fellow graduates, I see so many destinies. I also see many loved ones who supported and believed in the futures of each graduate we celebrate tonight. I am thankful for each life that is here! I am confident that your light will touch many who need the same encouragement, insight, and help that others have given to us on our journey in life and in this chapter of our lives as students.
We all have our story about how we chose social work. For me, I never thought about having any other career. Through my post-graduate work, I encountered the faces of children in foster care, men and women contemplating suicide because they were weighed down by the trials of life, and homeless children seeking shelter in developing nations. These faces motivated me to find answers to the challenges each one confronted. Doctoral education here at the Silver School of Social Work gave me the tools necessary to pursue my questions and shape policies that will affect the people that drew me into this field.
Regardless, if our work leads us to write policy, conduct research, or provide clinical services, we have the privilege of serving, leading, and giving voice to those who have been silenced. Tonight, each graduate is given a key to access a platform for service that will help bring the change necessary for others to shine to their fullest and brightest capacity. For this reason, I count it an honor to be among many who will heed what Mother Teresa once said, “Do not wait for leaders; do it [yourself], person to person.”
With this in mind, let us go from here with hearts full of compassion, minds equipped with knowledge, knees bent in service, and hands that are ready to give strength to those without hope. May each of us find the face that motivates us into a life of service.
As we graduate from NYU, which is symbolized by a lit torch, may it be said that we took the flame that we were given and lit fires every place we went. That the gifts we were given multiplied and caused the people we touched to shine brighter. Therefore, the commissioning tonight is as Ignatius of Loyola said, “Go forth and set the world on fire!” Congratulations!