Final Words from School, Department Graduation Ceremonies


There were many highlights of the debut weekend away from Wallace Wade Stadium as schools and departments held their own ceremonies bringing in outside speakers, alumni and faculty to share final words with their students. graduates.

Speakers included Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, U.S. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs, New York State Public Health Officer Sonia Sekhar, and Harvard Professor Tomiko Brown-Nagin, who chaired the committee that reported this month on Harvard’s historic connection to slavery.

Here are some comments from the ceremony:

School of nursing

“Despite continuing uncertainties about the current state of this pandemic, its destination and its end, I am ready to let the hope and promise of today take center stage. The past 26 months have have tested on so many levels, but we have faced this crisis with courage, resilience, kindness and embracing a common spirit of being together.”

“No matter what kind of hardship, how painful the experience, if we lose hope, that’s our real disaster. The hope of triumph. As nurses, we need to get involved. Now your journey begins and I challenge you to go out there and make a difference.

Ernest Grantinternationally renowned nursing leader and president of the American Nurses Association

Law School

“Serving people, not just professional achievements. Step into your role for your community, your customers, your environment and your nation. Do not fear opportunities and know that when you are ready, they will find you. My task, always, and your task now, is to use your education, your skills, and your hope for the future, to make sure that when those doors open, you’ll be ready to walk through them and bring others through. with you.

“The skills and knowledge instilled by this great institution, and the valuable connections it has allowed me to maintain with professors, colleagues and new friends, have undoubtedly prepared me for the challenges that I could only dream. When I finally had my confirmation hearing for my DC Circuit nomination before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee last week, I knew that no matter the question, no matter the level of scrutiny, a life of aspiration, of preparation and determination had shaped me for this moment. You too are ready for the most unimaginable and unexpected opportunities.

Judge J. Michelle ChildsMJS ’16, of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.

Find out more on the law school website

High school

“I absolutely loved graduate school. I still remember the thrill of receiving my acceptance letter from Duke. My acceptance letter to Duke graduate school had special meaning for me and my family. You see, I had started my educational journey in higher education as a first-generation student, with little knowledge of what to expect or how to navigate elite institutions. was raised by able and hardworking parents, but they had come of age in the Jim Crow South, unable to realize their potential because of racial discrimination.The opportunities available to me to attend a college of fine arts and to enroll in higher education had been denied to them.

“But nations, institutions and people can change. And by the time I arrived, a generation later, this country had evolved into “a more perfect union.” The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the landmark law enacted by a bipartisan Congress following the activism of courageous freedom fighters in Birmingham and throughout the South, paved the way for me. It created opportunities for those like me who came from humble beginnings, giving credence to the American ideal that success in life is the result of hard work and talent, rather than birth class, race or gender.

Tomiko Brown-Nagin, professor of history at HarvardPh.D. ’02, receiving the Graduate School’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Sanford School of Public Policy

“Everyone has power. Your power can be something you were born with or acquired through your life experience. It can come from immense privilege or from experiences of injustice and lack of privilege. Your world-class education at Sanford and the Sanford network you are now part of greatly enhances your power to make good policies that improve people’s lives.

Sonia SekharMPP ’14, Deputy Director, NY State of Health

Learn more about the Sanford website. Watch Sekhar’s speech on Youtube.

“I’m proud to be a first-generation American. A low-income college student, I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. … My major in public policy made me feel like I was on the path to becoming the public servant I always wanted to be.

Kyle Melatti, undergraduate student lecturer

Watch Melatti’s speech on Youtube.

Pratt School of Engineering

“As global change introduces higher levels of disparities into our global communities, we must be extremely mindful of who are the beneficiaries of our solutions with the aspiration to advance the common good. This requires a holistic approach, which means immersing yourself in diverse teams that allow you to tap into the richness of identity, perspective, and experience to fuel the creative process that leads to technology discovery.

Jerome P. Lynch, Vinik Dean of Engineering

Learn more on Pratt’s website.

School of Divinity

“As you move on, when times get tough, when you find yourself cowering in the corner of life, and when those ‘what if’ questions arise, remember that you are restored, redeemed, forgiven, and nothing can put out of reach of God’s insurmountable love Fear is no match for God’s restoring power.

Wylin Wilson, Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics

Watch the service on Youtube.

Department of Economics

“My own view of the college experience is perhaps a bit old-fashioned, that it should be a preparation for life. To think about, and even sometimes understand, the world around us. For citizenship – local, national and international. For his vocation, or his calling in this world. For relationships, both intimate and distant. For parents, if we go down this path. To continue to grow and develop as a person. To flourish.

“At first glance, your background in economics may seem to have little to do with these general aspects of life. Well, at least beyond the propensity to equate “thriving” with a high salary. But that would be missing the point. To quote – and, you know, every keynote must include a quote from a prominent philosopher – to quote the great Mexican philosopher Dani Rojas, “Economics is life! (You were expecting Aristotle and you get “Ted Lasso”. Sorry, I’m not that deep.)”

Steve Medemateacher-researcher in economics

Department of Political Science

“There is one last lesson I have for you, especially on this Mother’s Day. Listen to your mother. My mother instinctively knew what many people in politics have never learned; it’s okay to be the only voice for change.

JB Pritzker, Duke Class of 1987 and current Governor of Illinois. A member of Duke’s board of trustees, Pritzker received the department’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

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