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News & Events for the Smith College Community
Events August 17, 2019

Powerful Voices for Justice

SSW graduation

In a ceremony that was equal parts hope and determination, humor and joy, the Smith College School for Social Work awarded master’s and doctoral degrees to some 126 graduating students Friday afternoon.

Marianne R.M. Yoshioka, dean of the School for Social Work, congratulated the graduates and urged them to do great work, saying, “The people and communities you will serve deserve nothing less than your powerful voice for justice. 

“As clinical social workers and scholars,” she noted, “you will have great opportunity to speak up for clients, speak out against oppression, challenge the status quo when it suppresses those we serve, and shape the changes that raise the bar for an ethical and just world.”

Commencement speaker Dottie R. Morris echoed the importance of voice, urging the graduates to embrace a “not-on-my-watch mentality.”

“Please have a desire to preserve beauty while seeing the ugliness; to maintain joy while recognizing the pain; and to secure justice, liberation and freedom for all,” she said. “Do not for a moment entertain failure as an option, because I know failure is not an option.” 

Morris, the associate vice president for institutional diversity and equity at Keene State College, urged graduates to make a point of “stating the obvious,” especially when the things that should be clear are invisible to others. “When we point out the obvious, those things hidden in plain sight, we are doing our work as mental health providers,” she noted.

More than 1,000 family, friends and supporters gathered for the commencement ceremony, which took place in John M. Greene Hall.

Griselda Tomaino was the M.S.W. class speaker, and Nichole C. Wofford was the Ph.D. class speaker.

Day-Garrett Award Medals were presented to Catherine Clancy and to Nina Rovinelli Heller, who earned her doctoral degree from the SSW in 1990. The awards honor outstanding contributions to the field of social work and to the SSW’s educational community.

Tara Deviki Venkatraman received the National Association of Social Workers 2019 Student of the Year Award.