Goodwin College graduates encouraged to help, play and celebrate
By Matt Engelhardt - Goodwin College Communications Coordinator
East Hartford - posted Thu., Jun. 13, 2013
As many of the speakers at Goodwin College’s 2013 commencement ceremony stated, there’s plenty of work still ahead for the 570 students who graduated on Thursday, June 6. But, as valedictorian Dena Booker told her fellow grads, they should all take some time for themselves.
“Play, even if it’s only for 15 minutes every day,” said Booker, a preschool teacher who received a bachelor’s degree in child study. “It may sound foolish or childish, but playing nourishes us, it fulfills us, and it makes us more fun to be around.”
As valedictorian, Booker had the task of addressing an audience of close to 2,000 people gathered under and near the graduation tent for commencement. In all, Goodwin awarded 584 bachelors or associate in science degrees and certificates across a wide range of academic disciplines. Some students achieved multiple accolades.
Booker encouraged her classmates to take on new challenges and not to fear change. After all, many Goodwin students are the first in their families to attend college, and she congratulated all students on their initiative and accomplishments.
“We all said 'yes' when we left our comfort zones and made the choice to come to Goodwin,” Booker said. “Whether you are graduating with an associate or a bachelor’s degree, it’s time to say 'yes' again to your future.”
Student speaker Vaughn Martin, a new nursing graduate and a proud veteran of the Marine Corps, shared Booker’s concept that it was important to have fun. Martin, who attended Goodwin through the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, discussed his own journey to college following a “descent into the dark side,” when he grew despondent over lack of employment following his service to the country.
“There I was, a Marine, and for some reason, I couldn’t qualify to cook French fries,” Martin said. After finding his feet at Goodwin, Martin told his classmates that he wanted to be a scholar, not just a nurse.
“You cannot let your degree define you,” Martin said. “You have to define your degree.”
At the ceremony, Goodwin College conferred an honorary doctorate to energy mogul and business magnate T. Boone Pickens. Accepting the honor, Pickens told the grads that despite being a billionaire, he envied the students for the lives ahead of them, and encouraged them to work hard toward their goals.
Goodwin President Mark Scheinberg remarked that many of Goodwin’s programs are dedicated to careers in service. Recounting recent tragedies and catastrophes, from hurricane Sandy to the Newtown massacre to the Boston Marathon bombings, Scheinberg told the grads that they were now in a position to make a great difference for the better. “You are the people who will make sense of a world that does not always make sense,” Scheinberg said.
Goodwin College Board of Trustees Chair Maria Ellis had similar sentiments to Scheinberg. “Whichever position you take, serving others will always serve you well,” Ellis said.
The 2013 commencement marked Goodwin’s largest ever ceremony, with more graduates and staff members taking part than in any year past. Among other milestones, the college conferred its first-ever bachelor’s degree in organizational studies, a program that began in 2011.