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A Vision of Change

“They say that it takes a special type of person to be a social worker; someone who has a vision of change.” Temimah Zucker, MSW, WSSW '15


WSSW Commencement Temimah ZuckerOn May 11th, 2015 Wurzweiler School of Social Work congratulated fifty MSW and PhD graduates as they completed their Wurzweiler experience and began their careers as professional social workers. At the Commencement Exercises, four student speakers summed up their perspectives on their student experiences and on social work in inspirational and impressive addresses, each of which evidences the nature of Wurzweiler's exceptional alumni. One of those speakers, receiving her MSW degree, was Temimah Zucker. Below is the content of the speech she delivered. Congratulations to all of the Spring, 2015 graduates!

Good morning to my wonderful classmates, honoured guests, and esteemed faculty.

Since we began our academic careers at Wurzweiler we have been taught many lessons both in and out of the classroom. One lesson that stood out to me when I was thinking about graduation day and this speech, was taught me to me this year in my clinical class by Dr. Nancy Beckerman. During each and every class, Dr. Beckerman listened to all of our woes and turned our questions and concerns into a teachable moment; she reflected back to us how our own situation can be compared to those of our clients. For instance, when we started the semester, our feelings of anxiety and expectations were compared to the nervousness our clients may feel when we begin to work with them.

And so, when thinking about graduation or our termination from our academic careers at Wurzweiler, I had the use of Dr. Beckerman’s lesson in mind. I came to the conclusion that for the past few years, Wurzweiler has acted as our holding space. Just as we wish to create a safe environment for our clients, a comfortable and productive holding space – so too this graduate institution and the staff have worked to create a holding space for myself and my fellow graduates as well.

Our peers have acted much like fellow group members would, providing insight and support. Our professors have thrived in their roles of clinicians and facilitators, guiding our journey.

And the administration are akin to the directors and administration of an agency, who act as the pillars of the program and who worked to create a welcoming and inclusive environment. Wurzweiler has been a phenomenal holding space where we have had the opportunity to grow, progress, and learn not only about the field of social work, but also about ourselves.

The staff has taught us not only about Systems Theory, Crisis Intervention, and Freud or to plan Self-Care day or prepare the curriculum…but they have worked hard to help us excel through challenges, and to be an ear outside the classroom.

I feel humbled and blessed to be among these terrific graduates who acted not only as my teachers or colleagues, but as my friends. They say that it takes a special type of person to be a social worker; someone who has a vision of change. In a recent article in the NYT, David Brooks stated, “People on the road to inner light do not find their vocations by asking, what do I want from life? They ask, what is life asking of me? How can I match my intrinsic talent with one of the world’s deep needs?” I feel privileged to say that my classmates are those special individuals who possess that priceless inner light. To you, I am grateful. Thank you class of 2015, for your strength, support, and especially your honesty as it has enabled me to be pushed and to grow. I couldn’t have asked for better fellow “group members.”

But this is not the only thank you necessary. To those of you in the audience who may be a parent, sibling, grandparent, relative, partner or friend of a graduate. I hope I can speak on behalf of all my classmates when I say thank you. Thank you for the support, for listening to our constant complaints, for being our rocks, caregivers, and for simply being there and being you. We are indebted to you for all you have given us.

And additional thank you goes out to those were unable to attend today – I’m sure there are plenty of photos to go around…and a special thought goes out to those who are no longer with us, but who served as inspiration and helped shape us into the people that we are.

I’d like to leave you all with a small gift. This was bestowed upon me by one of my role models, during a very difficult time in my life when I was faced with one of my greatest challenges, a challenge that after overcoming, pointed me in the direction of social work and Wurzweiler.

Some of you may have heard this before, as I often use it with my clients and have talked about in class. It is a philosophy that dictates how I approach and live my life.

If you were given the opportunity to go to Disney world – most people know how much I love Disney – for 12 hours, you have two options. You could find a park bench and sit on the side, complaining about the short amount of time, about the all the things you would do if you had days in the park, worry about the what ifs…or you could go on every single ride possible within that time. Life can be bumpy, and as we graduate, many of us do not know about the next chapter in our book of life. But rather than give in to the fear and the worry, we can look back on this accomplishment with pride and move forward, enjoying and making the most of this ride.

Congratulations to you all.