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607 HGSE Students Receive Degrees at Commencement 2008

By Jill Anderson on June 5, 2008 10:34 AM

The cool drizzly June day didn't dampen the spirits of 607 Ed School students who, today, gathered under a tent in Radcliffe Yard to receive their degrees and face the challenge of changing the world.

Of the 607 graduating students, 40 earned doctorates, 552 earned master's degrees, and 15 received certificates in advanced studies of education.

Earlier in the day, HGSE graduates gathered in Tercentenary Theater in Harvard Yard for the annual morning Commencement ceremony, where their degrees were officially conferred. Students held "Ed in '08 signs" to communicate the importance of education as a Civil Rights issue.

Directly following the ceremony in Harvard Yard, Dean Kathleen McCartney commended the students in Radcliffe Yard for holding the signs. "You believe as I do that education is the Civil Rights issue of our provides the foundation for a just society," she said thanking the students for reminding "everyone in Harvard Yard about the importance of education."

Noting that education isn't always easy, McCartney focused on frustration as what drives learning. As she shared the stories of four alums - including Seth Andrew, Ed.M.'02, who brought 70 students from Democracy Prep School, a charter school for sixth and seventh graders in Harlem, to witness the spectacle of Harvard graduation - McCartney noted that it is in frustration that you find success.

"I am tempted to wish you a life filled with frustration, but alas, I don't have to do so. You will find it in your work, as we all do. Whether you are working in a school, a museum, a nonprofit organization, a college or university, a philanthropy, government, or in an organization you start -- you will find frustration," McCartney said. "Use it well. Use it to change yourself. And use it to change the world. I can promise you one thing in return. You will never wonder whether your work has meaning. You will know in your hearts that you are making a difference in the lives of learners."

She reminded the students that as educators they are members of a "noble profession" and "when you get too frustrated, or when you miss this special community, visit us here on Appian Way."

As McCartney readied to hand out the diplomas, she asked the graduates, "Are you ready to change the world?"

For Mind, Brain, and Education graduate Judith Widener Muir, Ed.M.'08, the moment was especially poignant as she brought five of her eight grandchildren -- all under aged six -- across the stage to receive her diploma.

"I came here because of them," Muir said. "It's all about children -- who are a symbol of what all of this stands for."

After a 20-year career as an education consultant, Muir, 59, didn't hesitate going back to school for a master's degree when all of her friends were planning retirement. "After all these years, it's good to see if you are really doing the right thing," she said.