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"Go for Broke" in Healing Hearts and Minds: At TC’s first master’s ceremony, Sandra Jackson-Dumont echoes a famous charge to educators

2016 Convocation Masters 1
Students from TC's Departments of Arts & Humanities and Curriculum & Teaching attended Convocation at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Monday

At TC’s Monday afternoon master’s degree ceremony, students receiving degrees in Arts & Humanities and Curriculum & Teaching were both celebrated and reminded of their future obligations.

“You are dedicating your lives and careers to the pursuit of social justice, a TC tradition that literally goes back to our founder Grace Hoadley Dodge,” said TC President Susan Fuhrman. “But now, our work in social justice takes on renewed urgency. For all the progress and landmark achievements we have made, America in 2016 is still confronted by the stubborn persistence of racism and growing inequities in education, health, and economic opportunity.”

Fuhrman highlighted the accomplishments of two graduates: Music & Music Education student Katy Ho and Curriculum Development student Sanyukta Bafna.

After performing at a hospice where a mother asked her to play a Christmas song for her dying daughter, Ho, a Julliard-trained violist and violinist, came to TC to devote her career to working with students and local communities – particularly special needs and low-income students who might not otherwise have access to classical music. As an Enid W. & Lester Morse Jr. Scholar at TC, Ho – who will continue on in pursuit of her doctorate – has taught students at the Teachers College Community School to play classical instruments.  

Bafna, who worked for Teach for India prior to coming to TC, wrote a master’s thesis titled “The Illusion of Choice: An Ethnographic Study of an All-Girl Islamic School in Mumbai,” which explored how the messages girls receive about religion and gender affect their college and career choices. As she returns to India to join a school curriculum and consulting firm started by 2012 TC alumnus Siamack Zahedi, her goal is to “liberate school curricula from stereotypes of religion and gender so that girls are empowered to realize their full potential.”


Fuhrman was followed to the podium by Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, who was receiving TC’s Medal for Distinguished  Service.

Jackson-Dumont began by quoting a 1963 essay in which, decrying the plight of black children schooled in a country that denies their contributions to civilization, the writer James Baldwin told educators “who deal with the minds and hearts of young people” that they must be prepared to “go for broke” to correct “so many generations of bad faith and cruelty.”

"Think about that one teacher who made a difference in your life. Could you be that person for others?"
—Ayesha Rabadi

Noting that “these words could have been uttered yesterday,” Jackson-Dumont urged the graduates to “think about what you’ll do to eliminate the possibility of this text ringing true 50 years from now.”

Echoing Jackson-Dumont, student speaker Ayesha Rabadi urged her fellow graduates to “think about the power that we all have now and how we got to this moment.

“Think about that one teacher, one person who made a difference in your life,” said Rabadi, who is receiving her M.A. in Early Childhood Education (Dual Certification), and who carried TC’s banner. “Could you be that person for others?  Be an advocate! Be an inspiration! Be a voice!”

Prior to the reading of the graduates’ names, a group of graduating Music & Music Education master’s degree students performed Sounds Like Somewhere, by Lily & Madeleine. They were: Lindsay Burstedt (vocals); Ashley Chambers (piano); Jung In Ji (Cello); Sarah Kang (vocals); and Jameelah Taylor (vocals). 

For more Convocation coverage and information, visit tc.columbia.edu/convocation.

Related Links:

"Take Advantage of Opportunity": At TCs second master’s ceremony, Thomas Frieden cites the need for luck, readiness and hard work in making a better world

"Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary": At TC’s third master’s ceremony, a call to action by Kris D. Gutiérrez

"Metabolize Failure": Susan T. Fiske encourages TC’s doctoral graduates to embrace life’s obstacles

Graduate Gallery 2016

TC 2016 Convocation to Honor Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Thomas Frieden, Kris D. Gutiérrez and Susan Fiske

Published Monday, May 16, 2016

TC President Susan Fuhrman
TC President Susan Fuhrman
Sandra Jackson-Dumont
Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, received TC's Medal for Distinguished Service.
Student Speaker Ayesha Rabadi