Located in the tranquil neighborhood of Morningside Heights, United Palace hosted the Silver School of Social Work’s 2018 Commencement. Upon entering, it becomes obvious why the venue has such a regal name, with the walls decorated with arabesques and lit by sparkling chandeliers.
Hundreds of students lined the venue as they made their way into the magnificent theater, accompanied by their loved ones. As everyone took their places, the ceremony commenced with remarks from Constance “Connie” McCatherin Silver, a Silver alumna who graduated from the program with a master’s in Social Work in 1979. Back in 2007, Silver made the largest private donation to a school of social work along with her husband Martin Silver, immortalizing themselves by becoming the school’s namesake.
Silver talked about the importance of serving a community and how she began in social work when she was just in second grade, recounting an exemplary tale of service in which she split her peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day with a girl in her class who came to school without lunch.
Her comments were meant to be preceded by an opening statement from President Andrew Hamilton, but Hamilton was unable to arrive on time due to traffic.
Following her speech, student speakers from the undergraduate and graduate programs imparted inspiring stories that exemplified the role of the social worker in leading grassroots efforts. Students were encouraged to take risks and to shake things up, to lead as well as to serve in spaces that they have never been in before.
“I want to help kids that have been overlooked by the system,” Jamaican immigrant and Silver master’s graduate Tasheena Salmon said. “I was overlooked by the system when I was younger. So, that’s why I want to work with children in foster care — to make sure they get the chances I never got when I was growing up in the United States.”
As the ceremony came to a close, students once again flooded the lobby as they met with their families and friends, with many proudly waving capes with the colors of their home country’s flag, while others decorated their caps with brazen sayings such as “I’m what 45[th president, Donald Trump] hates most: Latino and educated.” It was indeed a celebration of diversity and success.
Email Alejandro Villa Vásquez at [email protected]