We invite you to listen to messages from Dean Gregory M. Anderson, PhD, Alumni Association President Germaine Edwards, BA '85, MEd '88, PhD '03, graduate student speaker Nicholas Raymond Adams, BA '16, MEd '21, undergraduate student speaker Roxanne E. Biedermann, BSEd '21, and keynote speaker Desiree' LaMarr-Murphy, BSEd '10, MEd, MSEd.
Dean Gregory M. Anderson, PhD
Congratulations, Class of 2021!
We have all been compelled to adapt during these unprecedented times. Indeed, there can be no denying that your academic experience has been much different than the students who came before you and therefore it should come as little surprise that our commencement also looks very different. Nonetheless, what has not changed is the thrill I feel when celebrating your successes. Graduation is an important milestone, and you deserve all the recognition in the world.
During your time here at Temple, you have developed important skills that empower you to improve the lives of others. Your flexibility, hard work, creative problem solving, and undeniable character, embody Temple’s motto, “Perseverance Conquers.” As you continue your journey, what you have achieved during these uncertain times has prepared you to soar the highest heights.
Your latest achievement will not be your last as you enter the field of education or professionally engage in community services or critical human development activities. Although I cannot be with you all today in person, as I will be completing the vaccination process, what binds us together on this special day is a commitment; a commitment to serve others and contribute to a safer, healthier and better world.
I look forward with great pride to following your careers and the many future accomplishments accompanying your evolution. Never forget that you are more than capable of being the leaders of our next generation and can have a positive local, national, and global impact. Thank you for your contributions to the Temple community. Please stay safe and in touch with us and your fellow classmates and soar the highest heights!
Nicholas Raymond Adams, BA '16, MEd '21
My fellow Owls; Dean Anderson, faculty, staff, families, friends, and graduates;
We have some stories to tell in the future about the final semesters of our time as an Owl. We have finished our degrees during a time in history that is crucial to the future.
Not only have we worked extremely hard for years to get to this day, but the last year or so has challenged us in new ways no one was prepared for. Rather than shying away from this roadblock, we persevered to inspire positive change. However, we did not get here alone.
The cliché is that in college you find yourself.
Regardless of age, degree, course of study, or environment, higher education is the space where individuals learn about themselves. This helps us prosper and find success in the future. So why does this cliché exist?
It is not from the hours of writing lesson plans or researching various topics in education.
It is not the all-nighters in the tech or library. It is not from the facts, vocabulary or theories that are chiseled into our brains. It is because of the interactions we share and the people we meet.
When I think about this, I am reminded of my favorite TV show, Boy Meets World.
I attribute the person I am today to what I learned from the main character in the show, Cory. In the spin-off TV series, Girl Meets World, Cory becomes a middle school teacher and shares the secret of life with this class. Cory shared, “There is a secret to life. People change people. No matter what I teach you here, learning from the people you care about is more important than words on any page.”
He shared that he learned this lesson from his mentor, Mr. Feeny, a mentor similar to someone we all have. Maybe you even have a few.
For me, they are Mr. Cruz, Coach Abro, Kobe, and my girlfriend Laura. These mentors are people who motivate and push you to learn.
People who help you reach your full potential. People you look up to. People who make you better.
People change people. You were changed by your peers, supervisors, professors, and mentors. You were changed by your friends and family. You changed yourself.
These relationships and connections are more important than anything in a book, database, or journal. People change people.
Now, it is your turn. You have already started to create a ripple of positive change, but it is time to do more. Be bigger. Be that inspirational change others can look to. Lead with care and compassion.
Remember, people change people.
Now, go inspire that change! Congratulations to the Class of 2021. Thank you for changing me.
Roxanne E. Biedermann, BSEd '21
Good Afternoon fellow graduates, Dean Gregory Anderson, faculty, and family,
Fellow graduates: I’m sure if your advisor was like mine, they warned you senior year would be very rigorous. You, like me, probably assumed that meant it would be a lot of work but not, like, navigating-the-culmination-of-your-college-experience-during-a-global-pandemic-hard. But here we are. We made it.
Truthfully, my degree is over 20 years in the making, and the road was long and sometimes very hard, so I guess this really does feel like a fitting conclusion for me.
I first attended college back in 1997, yes, well before most of my fellow graduates were born, and in that first year, I changed my major 3 times. I could no longer justify putting my single mother and myself in massive debt, so I came back home, got a job, and didn’t enter another classroom for a few years. I eventually earned an Associate's Degree from CCP but would only finish one semester at Temple before dropping out again.
I got engaged and pregnant (and I won’t say in which order), and while this new path would see me living a happy life with an amazing husband and four wonderful children, two questions constantly nagged me. “What do I with my life?!” and “Am I going to be the first in my family to graduate from college, or am I going to wait for my children to do it?”
Fast forward to the contentious 2016 election that divided the entire country. I prayed over how I could make the biggest difference which inevitably led me to think about the people who were most influential to me during the hardest times in my life. I was born to two heroin addicts, so to say my childhood was tumultuous would be an understatement.
Through it all, my teachers encouraged and believed in me and gave me reasons to smile when I couldn’t find any on my own. I realized I wanted to be this person for kids today, equipped with the knowledge of just how hard the struggle can be and how the person who stands in front of the classroom can be a lifeline when you aren’t even sure what it is you need saving from. So, I concluded, at 36 years old, I finally knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life!
Now the tricky part… with all of life's obligations, including a husband who travels for work and my youngest still being a toddler—could I possibly take three years out of my life to completely change my course? Was that fair to my family? After agonizing about it for months, I didn’t know how I couldn’t. I wanted my children to understand no obstacles should prevent someone from reaching their fullest potential, and not everyone goes through life knowing where she belongs; for some—like me—it takes time and life and experience to show us our way.
So now my happy ending, right? Not a chance. It’s my first class in 14 years, and after my no-nonsense Math professor learns that my last math class was 20 years ago, she swiftly tells me to drop the class and take an algebra course before trying again. I told her it was not an option and asked what I could do to succeed. She told me I was going to have to work harder than I'd ever had before, so that's exactly what I did.
I finished the class with a 98%, and the ultimate compliment someone from Philly could receive: she told me I had “true grit.” The experience taught me so much about my capabilities, but more importantly, it showed me so much about the kind of teacher I want to be. She led by example: she worked hard for us, so we worked hard for her. She challenged us while giving us endless opportunities to learn and grow. All these years later, teachers were still lighting my path.
Fellow graduates, I tell you all of this because I want you to know your ability to impact the world is limitless. After all, if I didn't think teachers could change the world, I wouldn’t have thrown my life upside down to become one. To some of you, 41 might seem ancient, and to others it still sounds very young. For me, it depends on the day. But as I stand here, on my youngest daughter’s 10th birthday (Happy Birthday, Char Char!) exactly 20 years after I “should have” graduated from college, I feel a surge of excitement knowing I still have years to wake up every day and help change the world by teaching students the academic skills they need to succeed while also helping them develop the confidence and compassion they need to thrive.
For me, doubts about my age almost talked me out of this future, but I'm sure all of you have something that has made you question yourself or caused others to question you. Don't let it hold you back from contributing what you have to give the world through your life and through your work.
And now, I can stand here and so very proudly say that when my children graduate from college, they will be second generation college graduates! How will you make yourself proud?
Congratulations to the Class of 2021.
Desiree' LaMarr-Murphy, BSEd '10, MSEd, MEd
Thank you to the esteemed members of the faculty, parents and a big congratulation goes out to you extraordinary graduates of Temple University’s Class of 2021. You made it! You have confidently pursued and successively completed a Rigorous course of study and have done that at one of the best institutions of higher learning in the world, Temple University’s College of Education and Human Development. (So give yourselves a hand for that!)
It’s been said that if you see a turtle sitting on a fencepost you can be assured that it didn’t get there on its own. Likewise, let me remind you that all of our successes are collective accomplishments were made possible by many helping hands, seen and unseen. And in my case, let it be said that so much of who I am and who I have become is largely attributable to my parents and to the training and guidance I received here at Temple University. I want you all to know that I was surprised and indeed humbled by the invitation to appear before you today as your commencement speaker. And I am certainly aware that this prestigious institution has legions of accomplished alumni who could have been tasked with this awesome responsibility. Still, I feel honored and indeed compelled to share some brief remarks gleaned from my experience as an educator and someone who earnestly wants to help make a difference in this somewhat chaotic world of ours. Most importantly, I hope you will see in the particulars of my life, broad applications and meaning for your personal life’s journey.
I begin with the basic premise that very few of us come through this life unscathed and unaffected by events and circumstances that are not within our control.
Loses, setbacks and formidable challenges may well stand between us and our stated goals. For example, by the time that I was 23, I had married and had three daughters and then boom, we suffered a devastating fire losing everything that we owned. We recovered and in 2010 after 15 years of resiliency and hard work and studying at a snails’ pace, I stood where you are today, as a graduate of the College of Education.
But an even more devastating breaking point came with the sudden death of my husband that left me as a widowed mom of five daughters. There were so many days following his death that I had no desire to live. God did not let me die even when I begged not to live. I literally laid in bed for months asking to die not knowing what God had planned for my life. If I had gotten my wish, where would things stand now?
I share this with you not to bemoan my past but rather to affirm the fact that even as we celebrate this moment of triumph for you and your families, there is still the distinct possibility you too may experience some unforeseen and unanticipated setbacks. But recent research and clinical practices are helping us meet these challenges head on and move beyond what is popularly known today as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Insightful psychologists and writers like Robin Marvel and others understand what it means to be trapped in one’s trauma and are teaching us how to rise above it and even thrive under adverse conditions.
Looking back over my life, I can honestly say that I always aspired to be a force for good in the world. But it was through gut-wrenching adversity that my thinking became more focused and more rooted and I finally reached a stage of post-traumatic
growth (or PSG). Post Traumatic Growth is the basic idea that it is not just enough to bounce back from adversity. No, it’s way bigger than that. It’s the idea that we have a social responsibility and a duty to ourselves and our community to use those hard and heartfelt challenges and adversities as a vehicle or a stage we have gone through to help those who cross our paths and are struggling in those very same ways.
In brief, I was able to channel my deep pain into socially-beneficial outlets. In fact, my decision to launch Murphy’s Giving Markets was a direct outgrowth of a search for post-traumatic opportunities that might transform victimhood into victory for myself and others. At Murphy’s Giving Market, we believe that everyone has the right to sufficient, safe and healthy food with options. We also believe that people should be served with dignity and respect and treated as our friends, shopping at the free market with a choice and a voice. There, we do our best to prevent any member of our community from suffering hunger and strive to provide as many community resources to end poverty and food insecurities that are within our power.
You see, my philosophy and scripture to live by is “to whom much is given, much is required.” Whatever we have, we must give and we must help those who we meet that are struggling in ways that may or may not be familiar to our own personal experiences. In this spirit, we are all required to listen intently to the call to service.
The call to use our time, talents and treasure to alleviate suffering wherever and whenever we can and to uplift others as we climb.
Today you are all on the threshold of a new stage in your life’s journey towards self-discovery and self-actualization. Thus is it so vitally important for you to listen and lean in for signs and signals that might mark your path. Here, I am reminded of the advice of the great educator and mystic, Howard Thurman who wrote so eloquently about The Sound of the Genuine. He writes:
“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the genuine in yourself—and if you cannot hear it, you will never find whatever it is for which you are searching and if you hear it and then do not follow it, it was better that you had never been born. You are the only you that has ever lived; your idiom is the only idiom of its kind in all the existences, and if you cannot hear the sound of the genuine in you, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”
So Class of 2021, if I have but one wish for you it is that each and every one of you will make it a steady practice to listen for this sound of the genuine that stirs in your hearts and beckons you to the actualization of your best selves. For regardless of your chosen career or field of endeavor, I believe you in that special place, will achieve authenticity; and in that sacred place you will experience a peace that surpasses all understanding. So on those really tough days, when you are struggling to get out the bed, sit up. When you can’t sit up, stand, when you can’t stand, walk, when you can’t walk, run and when you can’t run, fly!
Again, congratulations for a job well done and your embarkation on an exciting journey that has just begun!
Germaine Edwards, BA '85, MEd '88, PhD '03
Congratulations Temple University College of Education and Human Development graduating class of 2021. As graduates, you're now members of the college Alumni Association. On behalf of the more than 55,000 alumni who've come before you, I'm honored to welcome you as new members. Today you take your place in a long line of extraordinary educators who've distinguished themselves and this great college worldwide for over a hundred years. As you make your mark on the world stay connected to the Alumni Association. Visit our webpage.
College of Education and Human Development Faculty & Staff
Congratulations Class of 2021. You've shown real dedication and perseverance getting to this achievement. If I could give you one piece of advice it's to be humble in the pursuit of learning. Learn from everyone around you as much as you can and make sure to ask for help if you need it. We'll all be here for you if you ever want to come back and visit us at Temple.
Congratulations you did it!
Congratulations to our newest group of graduating Temple Owls.
Congratulations graduates. Wishing you all the best.
Learn to appreciate the beauty in what makes us different from each other what makes us like each other and what makes us like no other.
To all of our 2021 graduates, congratulations you have done a wonderful job.
Congrats Owls! Yeah!
Hello Owls - Congratulations on your great achievement.
Congratulations Temple Owls.
Congratulations to the class of 2021. You are now Temple Made. Woop Woop
Hi everybody - I got all dressed up to say congratulations. It's been a very difficult year but you persevered.
You made it. Congratulations on your graduation.
Congratulations College of Ed grads. Well done!
Congratulations Temple graduates!
Congratulations class of 2021.
We're both excited and very very proud of you. Well done.
Congratulations on your graduation class of 2021. Go Owls!
I am so so proud of you. Congratulations.
Congratulations graduates. Go Owls.
Congratulations 2021 graduates.
My hardest congratulations to all of you for the great success. I am so proud of you. I wish you a successful, delighted and brilliant life ahead.