Each year, celebrating the achievements of our social work graduates is a joyful occasion for students, their family and friends and our entire social work community. In 2020, during a time of pandemic, we continued this time-honored tradition through a virtual event held on the afternoon of Sunday, June 14. 

A trio of inspirational speakers
We hope the powerful speeches about the momentous events of the past weeks inspired our graduates as they take their place among a global community of passionate change agents.

Beth Richie, professor of African American studies, University of Illinois at Chicago, gave a powerful and moving address, made all the more urgent as Seattle, the nation and the world coalesce around Black Lives Matter and demonstrate for racial justice. Richie is known for her singular scholarly and activist work focused on race/ethnicity and social position, and its impact on women, particularly African American women. Access the event video playlist here.

During the June 14 graduation celebration, state representative and social worker Tina Orwall (MSW ’91) offered her perspective on the many challenges our communities face with life during COVID-19. “We may not have had control over this pandemic occurring but we do have control over how we respond and move forward,” said Orwall.  “And we will move forward.” Access the event video playlist here.

In a surprise taped appearance, noted activist and author Shaun King, writer-in-residence at Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project and CEO of The North Star, a hub for liberation journalism, shared his early experiences with racism growing up in rural Kentucky. His advice to graduates: Be kind, act strategic and dream bigger than the limitations of the moment. Listen to King’s remarks here. (10:57 minutes).

Future celebrations in the works
We continue to explore the possibility of hosting an in-person celebration later in the year or in early 2021, depending on public health guidelines. Students who have shared their contact information will be notified if a future celebration is scheduled.