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“Your TC education has prepared you to translate evidence that’s been generated by research into practice, and to evaluate the results,” President Susan Fuhrman told graduates at Teachers College’s second master’s degree ceremony, held on Tuesday morning at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. “You will gear what you have learned to the specific contexts and communities in which you work.”
Recent teacher walkouts across the nation in “are in the tradition of our finest social movements. The teachers are right!”
Fuhrman told her listeners – graduates of the Departments of Biobehavioral Sciences, Counseling & Clinical Psychology, Education Policy & Social Analysis and Health & Behavior Studies – that “advances in understanding are occurring almost daily – not just in schools and classrooms, but in physical rehabilitation centers, health management settings, organizations and life situations that call for adaptive responses.” Research produced by Teachers College will have “maximum impact” in psychology, policy, social behavior and other fields.
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Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who received the College’s Medal for Distinguished Service, charged graduates with “shaping our future,” calling on them to “change the culture of our country and help end inequities in education that cement disparities and wealth and health and success.”
2018 Convocation: Masters II
Pointing to an average annual teacher salary of $58,000, Holder – the nation’s first African American Attorney General and now Chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee – lamented that “education and teacher empowerment take a backseat in national priorities.” Asking “Why do politicians advocate for more guns in schools, but not more books?” Holder gave his unequivocal blessing to recent teacher walkouts in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and elsewhere, declaring that these protests against low pay, poor working conditions and a lack of school resources, “are in the tradition of our finest social movements. The teachers are right!”
Student speaker Oluwabusayomi Olawale (Wale) Okerayi affirmed the power of Teachers College to create positive change – not only via its teaching, research and impact in communities, but also through the welcoming environment inside its walls. Okerayi, graduating from the College’s Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology, said her fears about attending an Ivy League school disappeared after she arrived from Texas and discovered that her professors and classmates would allow a “Nigerian American Black woman to share my story in safe and welcoming spaces.” Calling herself “part of the movement to end the stigma of mental health in communities of color,” Okerayi underscored the importance of “therapists that look like me in my field.
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“Listen to your intuition in the face of doubt covered in fear, listen to your intuition in the face of imposter syndrome, and listen to your intuition when everything seems dark and you have lost hope,” Okerayi concluded. “By doing this, it is the only way that you can live a life of your choosing so at the end of the day, the only person that you’re living for is you.”
– Steve Giegerich