SESP Convocation 2014 Honors Graduates, Inspires Leadership

SESP Convocation 2014 Honors Graduates, Inspires Leadership

View photos of Convocation 2014 on SESP's Facebook page

SESP Convocation 2014

At the Convocation for the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) on June 20, undergraduate, master’s and doctoral graduates received diplomas, and awards were presented to faculty and students. Gary Kosman, the founder and CEO of America Learns, was the featured speaker, along with student speaker Josephine Lee.

Dean Penelope Peterson kicked off Convocation by enumerating ways that SESP has been ahead of its time and assuring the audience that innovation continues at SESP. Peterson told the graduates. “We know you’ve attained the tools to be well prepared. We know you’ll do good, and we hope you’ll also do well.”

Northwestern President Morton Schapiro echoed the accolades for SESP. Playing off the School’s tagline “the small school that thinks big,” he called SESP “the smallest school with the biggest heart.” His message to the graduating class was to maintain their friendships from Northwestern. He said, “I wish you lives of health and happiness and success in whatever you want. May you always be blessed by the true gift of friendship.”

The central theme of Kosman's talk to the graduates, based on his own experience after graduation, was to stick with healthy habits. He recalled being so intense about his goals after graduation that he ended up with medical bills. “The thing that shapes you the most are the habits that take you along your journey,” said Kosman, whose California-based organization assists government and nonprofits with service delivery.

Kosman reinforced his message by giving the graduates blank cards and instructing them to write a positive habit developed at Northwestern on one side and a habit to eliminate on the other. “Keep these goals in the front of your mind so you can develop the life you want,” he advised. In addition, he counseled the graduates, “Keep people who encourage you to be the best in your life close to you. Don’t let the discouragers into your life.”

Lee, who was selected as student speaker, focused on leadership — after first opening with a message of gratitude. “Our success as graduates rests on an entire community’s efforts,” she said, referring to parents, family, friends, faculty and advisers.

Lee’s talk addressed the qualities that will help SESP graduates to tackle the world’s hardest problems. “Hopefully you have built up your courage and determination to never give up. … We need courage to do what scares most people,” she said.  “Never let your desire for consensus come before your desire to lead. … Today I encourage you to remember and fight for the causes you care deeply about.”

Finally, awards were presented to students and faculty. Miriam Sherin won the Professor of the Year Award, and Alissa Levy Chung won the Instructor of the Year Award.

Alumni, represented by Brad Wadle (MS03), presented the alumni undergraduate award to Josephine Lee, the founder and president of a campus entrepreneurial organization who was described as “visionary and a motivator.” The graduate student award went to Jane Stone, a teacher leadership graduate who is English department chair at Reagan Prep High School in Milwaukee.

The award for highest grade-point average went to Sharon Reshef, a social policy major who has worked on Presidential and Congressional campaigns as well as in the White House.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 6/25/14