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Remarks from Edward Alessi, Doctoral Student Representative

Good afternoon Dean Videka, Vice Provost Tylus, Trustee Silver, Mr. Kirkwood, distinguished members of the faculty, fellow graduates, and guests.

I am honored to represent the Silver School of Social Work PhD graduates. We are fortunate to graduate from a school that is a leader in clinical social work education. The Silver School’s doctoral program is unique: it is one of a few in the nation that incorporates the values of clinical social work in all aspects of its program.

I can say with confidence that the Silver School has prepared me and my colleagues to embark on our careers as clinical social work researchers, educators, and advanced practitioners. In preparation for those careers, we have been given the opportunity to assist faculty members with research projects, teach social work courses, supervise Masters students, serve on curriculum committees, present at national conferences, publish articles in scholarly journals, compete for academic jobs, and, of course, conduct independent research in the form of a dissertation.

Preparing and writing a dissertation is a monumental task that requires passion, persistence, rigor, and, most of all, the ability to tolerate frustration and ambiguity. At times, this was daunting; we might have questioned our abilities and our potential. To persevere, we relied on our spouses, partners, families, and friends; we are grateful for their support. I am personally thankful, as well, for the support of my dissertation committee, comprised of Drs. Martin, Festinger, Tosone, and Dr. Ilan Meyer from Columbia University. None of this would have been possible without them, and I offer them many thanks.

Our committees provided us with the guidance to reach our goal—the production of knowledge. Realizing this goal required countless hours of conceptualizing, analyzing, and writing that led, ultimately, to a completed dissertation. But it wasn’t just about completing a dissertation. It was something more than that, something much less concrete. The entire process granted us a transformative learning experience.

This transformation is the catalyst that will provide us with the motivation to continue generating knowledge to enhance the profession of clinical social work and subsequently improve the emotional and physical well-being of the individuals, families, and communities we will touch throughout our careers.

Thank you.