The message sent to HGSE graduates at the precommencement ceremony yesterday was celebrate your accomplishments, but, in the future, remember to continue to think collaboratively and to never stop questioning.
HGSE students, alumni, faculty, and their families gathered at the Gutman Conference Center to watch the presentation of honors such as the Morningstar Family Teaching Award, the Alumni Council Award, and the HGSE Intellectual Contribution Awards, as well as to hear speeches from various members of the HGSE community.
"I urge you to never let go of the question marks in life," said Martha Ferede, Ed.M. candidate in Education Policy and Management and winner of the Student Speaker Competition. "The question marks of not knowing, but wanting to know."
Each year HGSE students are invited to enter the Student Speaker Competition, the winner of which is selected by faculty members to speak at the precommencement ceremony. Speeches are judged on intelligence, wit, and significance to the audience. Ferede's speech,"The Grammar of Purpose," focused on the issues that have compelled her classmates to attend the Ed School and the questions that linger in each of them. "We're in the middle of an important narrative that bravely runs on to a bold future," she said. Also, she continued, the graduates have all been "fitted with wings" thanks to their HGSE schooling.
The Morningstar Family Teaching Award, which recognizes a faculty member for his or her generosity in providing time and support to students, was proudly accepted by Eliot Professor John Willett. "I thank all my students," Willett said. "I think teaching students is what this is all about."
Student-selected speaker, Lecturer Michael Nakkula, codirector of the Risk and Prevention Program, discussed the importance of togetherness not only in education, but in the world. Nakkula said that students had the power to collaboratively make an impact on the world. "As you move forward, think of school reform and education reform, as it starts here," he said.
But, don't let reform end with HGSE, encouraged renowned education reporter John Merrow, Ed.D.'73, this year's recipient of the Alumni Council Award. "Don't let [Harvard] just be a ticket punch," he said.
Merrow shared his hopes that HGSE graduates will consider how they can give back to society by supporting educational opportunity and equity, using education to cut through smokescreens, and supporting public education. Merrow also asked students to think about giving back to the school that had given them so much. "I owe my career to this place," Merrow said.
As Dean Kathleen McCartney reminded the departing students in her closing address, "The Ed School is your intellectual home, now and always."