May 18, 2017

Commencement ceremony celebrates over 500 Penn GSE graduates

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SoBae Park, Yunning Wang, and Marvin Shelton (pictured above) celebrate graduating from the Education, Culture, and Society program.

Penn GSE recognized over 500 graduates in the 2017 GSE Commencement on May 13. Commencement speaker Dr. Robert Parris Moses, a legendary civil rights activist and founder of the Algebra Project, told the graduates from fall 2016, and spring and summer 2017, how a fair education for all is needed to fulfill the promises of our democracy. 

At the master’s level, 404 M.S.Ed., 19 M.Phil., and four M.S. students were recognized. The ceremony also included the hooding of newly-minted doctors, with 16 Ph.D. and 67 Ed.D.s participating.

Student speaker Fatima Zaidi, who earned M.S.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling, told her fellow graduates about her path to a degree. She arrived at Penn GSE from Pakistan in 2015, but learned a few weeks into her first semester that promised funding had not come through. With the encouragement of faculty and peers, she stayed, juggling jobs and classes. Her struggles did not break Zaidi. They made her stronger.

Student speaker Fatima Zaidi received a standing ovation.

"Challenge yourself like I did, to achieve your goals, to push your limits and to always believe," Zaidi said. "Challenge yourself to accept. Accept all those who are the same and different.

"At GSE, I learned that when you move forward in such an environment where everyone is welcome, you do not move forward alone, but everyone moves forward together. And such is the pathway of strong, successful, world changing individuals, which each and everyone of you are!"

View the full photo gallery.