Saturday, May 26, 2012

Harvard's Commencement Class of 2012

My family was privileged to attend Harvard University's Commencement this past week, celebrating the graduation of our daughter, and was very impressed by the importance they place on the graduation of their 1600 undergraduates, as well as the Masters and Doctoral candidates from all of their graduate, medical, law and divinity schools.  Over 30,000 family and friends attend the ceremonies.  During all of the Pomp and Circumstance, they make special effort to recognize how special these young people are.

The Class of 2012 from Harvard College has formalized a unique project which they are calling Launch 2012.  This project was developed by seniors in a class on social entrepreneurship.  Social change is at the top of their agenda and have prefaced the beginning of the website with  the question "what if you and 1600 of your classmates worked together for social change?"  During the month of May, they surveyed class members to find out which of several topics was most important to them.  Announced at graduation, these students chose education as the global cause which they feel is most in need of change.

Harvard awarded eight honorary degrees at commencement, one of which was to Wendy Kopp, founder of the national teacher corps called "Teach for America (TFA)".  Designed to help provide excellent educational opportunities to children in low-income communities, TFA recruits high achieving recent college graduates.  These young people commit two years in a teaching assignment covering grades Kindergarten to Grade 12 in one of 43 regions in the country.  Approximately 20% of last year's graduating class at Harvard applied to Teach for America.  Although this year's statistics aren't yet available, my husband and I are proud to say that our daughter applied to, and was accepted by, TFA.  She will be teaching in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area and is very excited about the opportunity to "paying forward" in gratitude for the education she has received.

St. Lawrence County, New York is an area of high poverty, as we have been hearing these last several months as school districts have put together their spending plans.  What should we, as community members, be doing to further efforts to provide an even better education than is currently available to our young people in this county? 

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