Last month I attended both the hooding ceremony and commencement ceremony for my doctoral program. I was asked to speak at each event, which was a tremendous honor, if a bit intimidating.
Below is the text of my speech at the 44th Annual Commencement Ceremony at Wilmington University on January 25, 2015. There were actually three ceremonies that day, each one for two of the colleges at the university. My ceremony was the last one of the day and was for the College of Education and the College of Technology.
Thank you for that introduction, Judge Farnan.
Members of the Board of Trustees, President Varsalona, Faculty and Staff of Wilmington University, Parents, Guests, and Friends, and my Fellow Graduates of the Class of 2015:
Welcome! It is my distinct honor to speak – briefly, I promise – on behalf of the graduating class of 2015.
I’ve worked in some facet of public education since I graduated from college in 1999, and as I think any career educator will tell you, teaching can be a very isolating profession. Can be, but does not have to be, nor should it be.
One of the philosophies that drives the Educational Leadership doctoral program here at Wilmington University is that when it comes to leadership, you can’t lead by yourself. True leaders work with others to build trust, relationships, and a sense of community, because that is the foundation upon which good work is done. It’s true that too many cooks can spoil the broth, but if I can mix my metaphors for a moment here, none of us is as smart as all of us.
And isn’t that true of our time here at Wilmington University as well? Every one of us here today had some kind of support system to help us on our journey, whether it was our parents, our partners, our professors, our friends, and especially our classmates. These are the people who laughed with us and cried with us. They believed in us when maybe we didn’t believe in ourselves. They celebrated success with us – as we do today – and when we failed, they helped us to make sure that we failed forward, turning disappointment into an opportunity for learning and growth.
And that’s what I hope we all take with us moving forward from today. As graduates of the College of Education and the College of Technology, we are all, in our own ways and in our own roles, trying to make the world a little bit better. We leave here today with a great deal of knowledge and skill in our respective major areas of study, but let’s never lose sight of the fact that the relationships we create are not incidental to our work, they are the foundation of our work. Because if we’re looking to leave this world a little better than when we found it, that’s how we’re going to do it – not by breaking off and doing great work in isolation, but by breaking down barriers and working collaboratively and cooperatively to meet any challenge and exceed all expectations.
Once again, my deepest congratulations, Wilmington University Class of 2015.