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Remarks from Linda Lausell Bryant, Doctoral Student Representative

Class of 2013 Convocation

Thank you Dean Videka, Dr. Guilamo-Ramos, Trustee Connie Silver, Congressman Ed Towns and fellow graduates and friends.

I am honored to represent the doctoral social work graduates of NYU and honored to be a professional social worker. Our profession is a noble and highly sophisticated one. In an era of increasing specialization, I celebrate social work’s bedrock principle of working with the whole person, always in the context of the social environment. We social workers look for and look at human potential, partnering with people to unlock, unleash, uncover potential, over pathology. I am proud to be a PhD graduate of NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, which strengthened my competencies as a practitioner while guiding my development as a researcher and scholar. When I entered the PhD program, its focus was clinical, and over the course of the long road to completion, the program developed its focus on research. Fortunately, I got the best of both worlds and emerged from the program not with a dual concentration, but rather an integrated one. I believe that the integration of research and practice is the highest calling of our profession. As social workers, we seek to integrate, to balance, whether individual strengths and challenges, the common good and individual rights, justice, fairness, and equality of opportunity within a capitalist society. And we social workers know the importance of balancing the stresses and seriousness of our work with optimism and humor.

Speaking of humor, allow me to segue into what I call my obstetrical reflections on pursuing a PhD. These 3 letters, P, h, and D might as well stand for Push Hard Dammit! As a mother, I had some experience with the trials and joys of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. When I delivered my beautiful daughter, I thought I had survived the toughest experience ever. My PhD pregnancy, however, was quite long and when I finally went into dissertation labor, I was beside myself with desperation, fatigue, and the sense that I was close to delivering only to receive the news that more edits were needed and, alas, the birth was not imminent. I entertained fantasies of just walking away but I was too far along to turn back. Finally, the day of delivery, I mean defense, came and I became the proud mother of a 130+ page dissertation. Having been metaphorically “spanked” by my committee chair repeatedly, I was like a newborn baby. I could finally breathe… and cry. In fact, I feel like I have been crying tears of joy since that day. My joy, my pride, and my determination to bring this integration of research and practice into all I do just continues to grow every day since I was pronounced Dr. Linda Lausell Bryant. Today is our day to breathe, to cry tears of joy, and to give thanks to everyone who helped us make it through.

I am indebted to so many people on whose shoulders I stand, including my committee members led by the principled and wonderfully uncompromising Dr. Trudy Festinger, as well as Dr. Gerald Landsberg and Dr. Dina Rosenfeld. This amazing trio combined swift, targeted kicks on the backside along with sorely needed pats on the back. Just when I felt like I was close to collapse, Dr. Guilamo-Ramos rode in like an emergency medic, administering life support in the form of coaching, guidance, and a gift for making complex research concepts accessible. I am forever grateful to you all. I thank Mike McCaw, whose responsiveness and kindness was so deeply appreciated. With all of my heart, I thank my family, beginning with my grandparents who arrived in NYC from Puerto Rico in the 1920’s with barely a dollar in their hands but a fistful of dreams. In the two generations since they arrived I stand as a testament to the power of their dreams and those of my mom and dad to be our family’s first college graduate. I thank my husband, Marshall, and my precious daughter, Jasmine, who wanted a younger sibling and instead grew up alongside Mommy’s dissertation. And I thank God for seeing me through.

Congratulations to each graduate and family members and friends today!

It is now my privilege to introduce the director of the PhD program, Dr. Vincent Guilamo-Ramos!

Type: Article

Photo of Linda Lausell Bryant at Convocation 2013