After a year’s absence, the School of Social Work held in-person Commencement ceremonies on May 14 for its B.S.W. and M.S.W. graduates at Richmond’s City Stadium, while Ph.D. graduates were honored at a separate event the same day.
In total, the school recognized six Ph.D. graduates, 187 M.S.W. graduates and 107 B.S.W. graduates. Approximately 200 B.S.W. and M.S.W. students participated in two ceremonies at City Stadium, which were made possible when in-person restrictions were loosened this spring to allow for larger outdoor gatherings. All participants and attendees were required to wear masks unless speaking, and maintain six feet of spacing.
Online M.S.W. student Samuel Wilson Jr. passed away on May 7, and his degree was conferred during the ceremony. “He was deeply committed to his goal of becoming a social worker who could help change the lives of others,” Dean Beth Angell, Ph.D., said, “and during his journey, he touched the lives of his professors, advisors, fellow students and his clients at the Virginia Department of Social Services (where he worked).”
Dean Angell recognized all graduates as agents of change. “I want to remind you that you, as newly minted social workers, are the light that the world needs right now. It gives me and all of our school community hope to know that you will bring your knowledge, your capacity for critical thinking and problem solving and your hunger for social justice into the world to work on behalf of individuals, families and communities that have endured and lost so much over the past year.”
Student speakers were Bryana Berry of the M.S.W. Program and Maria Cornett of the B.S.W. Program.
Berry: “To each and every one of you who have fought tirelessly through this year to make it to today, I urge you to never forget your strength and courage. These qualities are a testament to our unflinching desire to do great things in service of others and the world. From today, we are social workers. Our challenge now is to step into that and own it. After all, we are more than ready.
Cornett: “Don’t let obstacles or people distract or discourage you. Make your dreams a reality because you owe it to yourself. Be a friend to others. We will all need someone! If you’re going through a rough time, remember my saying, ‘It can’t storm forever.’ You will get through it! Just one step at a time.”
M.S.W. Program Director Melissa Stewart, Ph.D., participated in her final Commencement after 21 years with the school; she will be retiring in June.
Ph.D. graduates: 6
Ph.D. honors and awards: 11 graduate recipients*
Ph.D. scholarships and assistantships: 5 graduate recipients*
M.S.W. graduates: 187
M.S.W. honors and awards: 46 graduate recipients*
M.S.W. scholarships and stipends: 42 graduate recipients*
M.S.W. certificates and certifications: 31 graduate recipients
B.S.W. graduates: 107
B.S.W. honors and awards: 12 graduate recipients*
B.S.W. scholarships and stipends: 12 graduate recipients*
*includes some graduates who are multiple winners
BSW honor designations: 7 summa cum laude graduates (3.9-4.0 GPA); 20 magna cum laude graduates (3.6-3.89 GPA); 26 cum laude graduates (3.3-3.59 GPA).