During the University of Washington College of Education’s June 10 graduation ceremonies, two representatives of the Class of 2017 discussed the role of education in a thriving democracy as families, friends, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate more than 700 graduates.
Aliza Fones (PhD ‘17), who as a doctoral student served as coordinator of the English language learner endorsement program in the UW’s teacher education program, spoke about the critical role that she and her fellow graduates will have in guiding the nation’s future.
“Some of us will inform policies. Some of us will build networks, write grants, teach reading and math. We will all work together to ensure that in this country, education is for everyone,” Fones said.
Julie Van (BA ‘17), a leader in the UW Dream Project who graduated with a minor in Education, Learning and Society, urged the Class of 2017 to empower students’ voices to inspire action, bring forth change and create a more just world.
“As educators and as people who have a stake in education, it is essential that all students understand that their voices and stories have value—and that they have the power, strength and agency to take action,” Van said.
Dean Mia Tuan said the new class of UW-prepared teachers, researchers, leaders, policymakers, early childhood professionals and other educators is united by its dedication to leveraging education as a force for good.
“Education is a cornerstone of a thriving democracy, yet our youth continue to face opportunity gaps that place barriers in their paths,” Tuan said. “We need passionate professionals working at every level of our education system to disrupt the status quo.
“Whatever your path, the thread that binds each of you is a deep dedication, dare I say calling, to creating educational systems that are rigorous as well as joyful, where it’s a great place to just be a kid, and where learning comes alive not just for a few, but for all.”
Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications