Dean Mia Tuan: 2016 Graduation Ceremony Opening Remarks
Today is a good day. One of those milestone days when we are invited to pause from our routines and take note of a special moment. Like a birthday, or a wedding, or a child’s first steps. Milestone days are times to slow down and to remember the people we love, the journey we’ve taken thus far, and those who have supported us along the way. And so on this milestone day, I would like to share a few thoughts with our graduates, on what is important to remember as you leave UW. To begin, graduates I’d like you to think back to your first days in our college. Think past the endless assignments and papers, past the deadlines and stress, past the dissertation or the capstone project, instead, I want you to hone in on what first sparked your interest and passion to become an educator, a researcher, or a school psychologist just to name a few of the professions that are represented in our college. For each of you, helping all young people become their best selves isn’t a choice. Its a calling. That’s the spark that drew you to this college, and its what connects you to everyone who is a member of it. And so my first point is simply this: always remember why you do the work that you do. There are going to be some long days ahead, along with some hair-pulling challenges. When those days come, I want you to reach back and touch that spark, to help center and remind you why the work you do is so important. Your calling is working with people of all ages, but especially kids, To reach their full potential. My second point is this: remember that you are ready to face the challenges ahead. You’ve received an outstanding education from one of the top ten colleges of education in this nation. And you are ready to empower children and families nationwide and around the world. From accelerating student achievement through ambitious and equitable teaching practices, to transforming education through systems-focused leadership, to ensuring the healthy development of early learners and readying them for school success, your College of Education training has prepared you well. This is both a tremendous opportunity and responsibility. You are all aware of the tremendous opportunity gaps that exist for our youth. We need passionate professionals working at every level of our education system to challenge the status quo. And now you are ready to join the ranks, to believe in the potential of every child who walks into your classroom or your building, and to change systems so that they are responsive to all kids and not just some. And for my last point: remember the people who helped you reach your full potential. Who comes to mind when you think about your personal support team? Your parents? Your best friend? A teacher? Your partner? Your journey hasn’t always been easy, but the people who have supported you along the way have made all the difference in helping you achieve your goals. Many of those individuals are here today on this beautiful campus to witness your personal milestone, beam with pride, and share in you joy. And so, I invite you now to turn and find those individuals and thank them for their support. Stand up! Thank you, family. Thank you, friends. Thank you for being part of this special day. Thank you graduates for sticking it through. And thank you for the contributions that you are going to empower others to become their best selves.