Good evening! I am excited to be standing here before you today. Our class is comprised of part-time and full-time students. Despite our different starting points we have come together throughout the years. Tonight, I wish to leave us with words of encouragement for the next stage of our professional journey.
We have been processing this mass termination of our MSW education, field placements, and student/professor relationships. We have shared with one another the uncertainty we had when starting the program, how alone we felt at the beginning of it, appreciation for the relationships we have made, and pride regarding the growth we have experienced during our time here.
Tonight, we say goodbye to our student identities and take hold of a new one. We are no longer students and interns, but we are professional social workers. We are excited and thrilled to be getting paid for our work rather than paying to do it! We are set to go out and apply everything we have learned about object relations, CBT, research, community organizing, and policy. Yes, we are excited, thrilled, and ready. Yet, at the same time, many of us are also nervous and asking, “Wait, now what? What exactly have I mastered after my time here? Am I really ready?” I want to remind all of us, that yes, we are ready.
To paraphrase Abraham Heschel, a social worker is a person who holds social justice and the client in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers the harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.
We are equipped with the same heart and the spirit that drove our founding mothers to social work; our human spirit towards empathy and compassion. Our nature to defy despair. These, in combination with our education, motivate and prepare us to demand policies that are socially just, give a louder voice for our clients when they are not being heard, and ignite our questions for research. MSW Class of 2012, we are ready, we are equipped, and we will do great things!
I want to encourage you to always seek out knowledge and wisdom. Yes, we are equipped and ready, but for us to remain so requires that we not become stagnate in our current capabilities, but rather, build upon them. One class in CBT does not prepare us to start a CBT-based practice. It also stands that one ethno class does not mean that we fully understand the context and interplay of our different identities with those of our clients. So, I beg of us, to be committed and open to a lifelong career of learning.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge the support that we have received from our different friends, family members, professors, deans, and administrative staff. We are here because of the support you have provided. Finally, to my classmates I want to thank you for being part of my journey, and thank you for allowing me to be a part of yours. Congratulations MSW class of 2012, we are ready!