Sunday, June 12, 2011

My PSU Masters of Social Work Graduation Speech

Here is the little video Alan took of my speech yesterday. I was soooooo nervous. I wish I would have smiled a little more, but over all, I think I did a pretty good job.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Speech for the PSU School of Social Work Graduation today

Dear friends, family, colleagues and mentors. I am so excited to be here today to celebrate with you, the end of this amazing adventure. As some of you witnessed on Facebook, I have been counting down the days for a few weeks now. Ok, maybe more like a few months. It wasn’t because I wanted out of class time or to be finished writing papers – well, maybe the paper part. But really, like many of you, I am eager to begin the next great adventure.

Like most of us, I entered this program eager about the possibilities of what was to come. I appreciated the exciting process of grappling with new ideas, trying on theories, and experimenting with who I wanted to be as a social worker. I feel grateful that throughout this experience I was able form relationships that I knew would nourish me personally and professionally for the rest of my life. Yet, during this same exhilarating time of personal growth and development, we experienced the heartbreaking loss of valued members of our social work community.

During the fall of 2008, we lost classmate Katie Nolan. She was a bright passionate woman devoted to grappling with what it meant to be apart of the social work institution while remaining committed to social justice.

Barely a year later, we experienced the tragic deaths of two well loved and respected social work professors. This horrifically unexpected act took the collective breath away from faculty, staff, countless students and the community at large. It left many feeling angry, confused and heart-broken. Yet during both of these very tragic events, something wonderful happened. Our community, together, was able to find hope.
Through the loss, confusion and anger we were able to come together. We were able to remember the goodness intrinsic in each other, create space for healing, offer ourselves authentically to each other as a means of support, and to remain hopeful about what life still had in store for us all. These were powerful experiences. They soften my edges a bit and reaffirmed for me that I had made the right choice in following my path to become a social worker.

As we leave here today and move on to our next adventures, I want to encourage you to remain hopeful. Never forget the unique and powerful compassion that you each possess. And even when the case loads may feel unmanageable, or the policies unjust – remember that we have the ability, as a social work community, to sustain the hopefulness that brought us to this work in the first place. For without hope, we have nothing.

In closing I want to share with you some words by Reverend Mark Belletini. These powerful words have guided my life for many years. Much like us, independently they are simple ideas. But together they create a powerful message of hope.

Live simply, gently, at home in yourselves.
Act justly. Speak justly.
Remember the depth of your own compassion.
Forget not your power in the days of your powerlessness.
Practice forebearance.
Speak the truth, or speak not.
Take good care of yourselves, for you are a good gift.
Crave peace for all people in the world, beginning with yourselves,
and go as you go with the dream of that peace alive in your heart.

Thank you and Congratulations Class of 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I did it!

Wow! Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I am done with grad school, again. In ten short days I'll be walking across the stage receiving my diploma. It seems so surreal.

This time two years ago, I had just left BAH and literally on a whim, had applied for the MSW program. I had been talking about doing it for a couple of years, but I already had a Masters, and a job that I loved, so why bother. Then when BAH hired a new ED and it became crystal clear that we were not going to be able to work together in a meaningful fashion, I took the opportunity to get out. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but everywhere I applied, they wanted a MSW, not and MPA even with 12 years of experience. So back to school I went.

I am really glad that I made that choice. I am so lucky that I was afford the opportunity the way I was. The universe has a plan for me, of this I am sure. I have been blessed with amazing internships, part-time jobs that have helped keep our family afloat, a loving partner who even when he might not have wanted to, was always supportive, new colleagues that challenged me to be a better social worker, and friends that were always cheering me on. And we did it! We made it through.

Now it's on to the next adventure. Who knows what the universe holds, but I know whatever it is, I am really excited for it. So, thank you everyone who supported me along the way. I felt the support daily, and can't wait to pay it back in spades!

Woooohooooo! I'm done with grad school!!