At commencement on May 11, 689 new faces were added to the count of Wagner alumni.
They included the Spiro Award recipient, Charlton J. Boyd ’18, a double major in government and politics and in history who was a campus leader in student government and athletics. He was also president of the Wagner College Republicans and chair of the New York City Federation of College Republicans.
Two students won the privilege of speaking for their class: Eman Metwally ’18, a childhood education and English major; and Glen MacDonald ’18, an English and film studies major and writing minor. (Read his feature story about visiting Cuba.)
Wagner awarded honorary degrees to two distinguished educators, L. Lee Knefelkamp, a pioneering scholar in the area of intellectual and ethical development; and Freeman A. Hrabowski III, a national leader in science and math education, especially in minority participation and performance.
They both shared their encouragement, wisdom, and stories for the class of 2018.
“Your families, Wagner College, and the experience of your own precious life have all taught you to be of use,” Knefelkamp said. “That is what a practical liberal education is all about. You have developed the intellectual, interpersonal, and intercultural capacities to be of use in a complex and diverse society. And do we need you now! We need your commitment and courage, your excellence and empathy, your talent and tenaciousness.”
Hrabowski, the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, talked about his mother’s growing up as a black girl in rural Alabama. She learned to love reading by borrowing books from her wealthy white employer. She became a teacher, and Hrabowski became, in his words, “a math nerd.” He was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and marched with him in a peaceful civil rights protest.
Connecting the civil rights movement to the diversity and inclusiveness of college graduates today, he said, “My students say, ‘But there are all these divisions.’ And I say, ‘But go back to the ’60s. The 1960s or the 1860s.’ There have ben divisions before. And it’s taken people like you to say to the world, ‘We can be better than this.’ I challenge you to use this fine liberal arts education to analyze what you can do, and to ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’”
“Today you are celebrating your dreams, students, and the dreams of your parents and your grandparents,” Hrabowski said. “I want you first to know your story. Know your story, and don’t let anyone else define who you are.”