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Remarks from Ethan McCooper, Master's Student Representative

Class of 2014 Convocation

Dean Videka, Trustee Silver, Dean Shibusawa, distinguished guests, family, and friends, on behalf of the 54th graduating class of New York University’s Silver School of Social Work thank you for attending and witnessing this celebration; an event filled with moments of remembrance, satisfaction, and accomplishment.

To my peers, my most sincere congratulations; together we are the class of 2014.

Within our first days as social work students we began hearing that we were to be social change agents. We shared the beginning of this amazing journey, the anxious start of classes and field; many of us found ourselves becoming disaster responders after Hurricane Sandy. We got to know one another through practice and groups and diversity classes, yet we have all lived our varying journeys through the program differently. We have all had unique experiences. These stories and journeys have come together again today to fill each and every chair. The strength and drive shown by the individuals in this shared space is inspiring.

As a child I frequently visited New York City and fell in love with the diverse and captivating population and vibrancy of the city. At the time, SoHo’s walls were layered, covered with posters telling the stories of the people; zeitgeist, on the streets.

These posters, ripped and weather beaten, documented New York, and were layered one on top of another. My younger self, in love with the neighborhood, began to peel off the tattered edges of the posters. I had never fallen in love with a place and time and people all wrapped up together. When you love something, you want to be a part of it; you want to be a part of its journey.

The appearance of SoHo continued to change although the posters have largely disappeared, but like the layers and complexity of the neighborhood, my desire to help and better New York remained. What has stayed behind was my curiosity of how people, their stories, and their layers make them, like us, interconnected.

When I was very young visiting my grandmother in SoHo, I remember standing on LaFayette, wanting to move to New York as I had always wanted to do. She told me that if I worked very hard, when I was older, I could go to a school up the street and around the corner: NYU.

Having the opportunity to spend the past few years with all of you, sharing our passion for people and peeling back the layers of our stories and those of our clients has formally translated passion into practice. As we move forward into the world outside of NYU I want to remind you that we have truly become social change agents, and as Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

The power we truly possess.... let us remember.... Is that which we are gifted.... that which we cannot define. As Emerson so eloquently put it, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters... compared to what lies within us.”

That is what makes us so exceptional, and makes me so proud.

Finally, from the 54th class of the School of Social Work, thank you Dean Videka, thank you to all the professors and staff at NYU Silver, as well as the supervisors and clients at our internships. And once again, congratulations class of 2014!! We did it!

It is now my pleasure to introduce an individual I know personally to be an amazing professor as well as the associate dean of professional programs and the director of the MSW program, Dr. Tazuko Shibusawa.

Type: Article

Ethan McCooper