Master's Hooding Speeches 2014

Board of Trustee Welcome & Invocation:

Peter Stern, Vice Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at Champlain College

Peter Stern - Board of Trustee WelcomeGood morning, I am Peter Stern, Vice Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Champlain College. It is my honor to welcome fellow trustees, administrators, staff, and faculty -- and the soon-to-be graduates, their families and friends -- to the Master's Degree hooding ceremony and commencement.

This is the 11th time in the 136 year history of the College that we gather to recognize graduates of the Master's degree programs.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I congratulate the 81 students here today completing graduate degrees at Champlain College. I also congratulate all of you who have supported these students through their graduate work and today share in these accomplishments.

Finally, I also commend the members of the Champlain College community whose vision for graduate education at Champlain has become a thriving reality, as represented by the accomplishments of these fine candidates.

Today we honor these students with a hooding ceremony and the conferring of their master's degrees. Dr. Robin Abramson, our Provost, will later explain the significance of this traditional ceremony.

Let us take a moment to give thanks for the blessings of this day as we gather here to celebrate and acknowledge our students' accomplishments.

We give thanks to the families, employers and other supporters who helped make this day possible for these Champlain College graduates.

May we heed the experience and learning of those who came before us, that we may be the wiser as we move forward.

May we offer a helping hand, a kind word of advice and a moment of peace to those who follow us in this path of higher education.

We ask for the patience and guidance to use our knowledge to bring about respectful and important change in the world.

In the years ahead, we ask that our actions be tempered with grace, wisdom and forethought as we strive to make our world a better place.


Student Speaker Representing The Class of 2014: Lisa Murphy

Lisa Murphy - Student Speaker

Greetings. My name is Lisa Murphy. I am a published author, podcaster, teacher, respected advocate of play in the lives of children, an international lecturer and am, according to some, considered an expert in the field of early childhood education.

Yet my credentials, credibility and expertise could not shield me from the slow steady flirtation I began with the idea of going to grad school. It began rather innocently as I began courting many programs, weighing the pros and cons of MS vs MA vs MEd, comparing and contrasting on-line vs. brick and motor, considering the implications of potentially moving my business and family across the country to pursue this somewhat selfish goal, but it wasn't until prospectus after prospectus started showing up in the mail box that my husband started to get suspicious.

During this time, I attended a play research conference in ABQ and was approached by one of our esteemed Champlain professors in the parking lot. She happened to know that I was looking.

So influenced was I by her glowing reviews of Champlain, so swayed by her description of the on-line masters in early childhood education program, so seduced by her well-crafted, yet honest and enthusiastic answers to my queries that there in that parking lot for 45 minutes while my car was still running mind you, doors open, luggage waiting to be unpacked, the verbal exchange that transpired transformed my innocent courtship with the idea of grad school into a reality.

Shortly thereafter I applied, was accepted, received financial aid, and officially took grad school as my mistress.

I don't know about you, but I completely underestimated how needy & high-maintenance she would be.

Many of us allowed a demanding stranger to not only enter our lives...

but to take it over.

It was an intense, passionate and challenging roller-coaster ride of emotions not just for us - the students - but our families, friends, significant others, business partners, employers, children, our dogs....

She came in fast and furious this hungry beast of a grad-school mistress altering existing habits, routines and schedules.

The systems we had in place that for so long had provided consistency and stability shifted to meet her demands. Not the least of which was her requirement of a room of her own. Countless dining room tables became her boudoir and we found ourselves spending hours there. Hours that a week prior we would have claimed not to have. Yet somehow found to share with her.

There were secret words and phrases, status updates started including hashtags of #homeworktrain and Club Em E D = #ClubMEd (club med!) which signaled to family and friends that I was unavailable for anyone but her

There were midnight paper rondez-vous

Leaving parties to have dates with discussion boards

Assignment deadlines took precedent over the laundry, the lawn, the shoveling of the snow, the dirty dishes

We swapped, "I'd love to!" with, "Thanks, but I have to study"

Missed birthday parties, soccer games, cheer camp and bowling league banquets yet had passionate, intimate, self-disclosing email exchanges with complete strangers from around the world

There were books in the bed

And all of a sudden previously unnecessary, separate email accounts were required to be opened and checked (pause) constantly.

Packing for the trips to fulfill residency requirements were met with, "you are coming back, right?"

And the emotional outrage when angel turned into canvas and we screamed in frustration and got blank stares of confusion from our families but understanding and support from online classmates we'd never met

Notes of "I'm a the library" solicited heavy sighs of, "Again?!"

And many spouses were seen crying after discovering tell-tale highlighter stains on shirts in the laundry room

This, this thing entered our lives and for all stress she caused and the rigor she demanded, she was still tolerated. And we shifted to accommodate her because we - all of us - not just us students, but everyone impacted, knew in the end it would be worth it. We chose to make a back-breaking initial investment because we were confident it would pay. us. back.

For some the decision to dally with this paramour was a well thought out, planned, premeditated choice, for some, more spontaneous and impulsive, and for others it was a slow steady flirtation that quickly escalated into infatuation. Regardless, we chose to make room for it, (PAUSE) temporarily.

We temporarily chose to put everything on pause as we catered to the mistress who insisted we give her time and attention as she pushed us out of our academic, personal and professional comfort zones; demanding patience and sacrifice from everyone involved.

And then, just as quickly as we found ourselves entangled in her desires, it ended. Resulting in a collective, audible sigh of relief.

Whether your grad school romance was 18 months, 2 years, 5 or 10, we gather today to commemorate the conclusion of our (hashtag) #ClubMEd love affairs and our 4 AM trips on the (hashtag) #homeworktrain

Today we turn our attention back to those of you who assisted, encouraged, and otherwise tolerated not only our grad school journey, but the stranger you allowed us to bring into our homes.

Today we celebrate OUR accomplishments and YOUR support. For as cheesy as it sounds, we, the masters degree graduates of Champlain college, could not have done it without you, and for that we will be forever grateful.

Thank you.

Alumni Welcome: Lanaya Sandberg 

Lanaya Sandberg - Alumni WelcomeI am honored to be with you today at our master's commencement from a college that has been near and dear to my heart for the past twelve years. I have witnessed, first hand, Champlain's tremendous growth and evolution in the past decade. I am grateful and proud; as I am sure you all are to have had the opportunity to contribute to the academic body of knowledge of this institution.

One of my goals for today is to be a source of inspiration for you. My story is a story of age and determination, and its limitless potential. If I can influence just one person here to think differently, to challenge the assumptions they hold, then I have achieved this goal.

It is amazing to think how far I have developed professionally in the past year, since I received my MBA- it is a truly remarkable, humbling reflection for me. I don't think a master's degree in itself equates to success, but rather the newfound intelligence and perspectives that result from the rigors of pursuing a master's degree. In the near future, you may not be able to identify a clear cause-and-effect relationship in terms of career mobility and advancement, but I wholeheartedly believe that doors will open for you that otherwise may not have.

There are four tenets that I would like to share with you, which are the importance of being receptive to new ideas, perseverance, reflective thought, and taking the time to learn the personality types of those you interact with. I have found the most profound learning moments in my life have been influenced by the application of these tenets. We all are familiar with these, but few people actually live, day-in and day-out, by them.

The first tenet revolves around the importance of being open to new opportunities and determination. I suggest you develop a professional roadmap that will guide you to achieve your goals, while remaining flexible to any unforeseeable deviations as they could be a blessing in disguise. Try not to discredit the potential of a lateral move. I am often disheartened when someone chooses not to pursue a new, lateral position because it doesn't offer the monetary compensation or title they are immediately looking for. While trite, try to always focus on the big picture, your long-term goals, and be patient, while trying to be receptive to any opportunities that could better position you to achieve your professional vision.

The second tenet focuses on the value of persistence. We are master's graduates, empirical research classifies the majority of us as a type A personality, we constantly aim to raise the bar, pushing and pushing ourselves to no reprieve. Despite all of our successes and, however, far we may excel up the career ladder, we are all bound to stumble at one point or another. If we are continually raising the bar, according to the gambler's fallacy, past events do not change the probability that particular events could occur in the future. You will, at some point, stumble- either momentarily or for an indefinite period. Failure, by definition and connotation, has a negative implication, but I like to think in more liberal terms as failure is the creation of an alternative opportunity, existence forcing you in a different direction or to become stronger. Confucius wrote in The Analects: "our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do". This is a powerful quote that I hope will provide inspiration to you in times of hardship.

The third tenet calls to light our own mental models and the big assumptions we hold when making decisions, and how this can impede our professional development. Your focus should lay not in the decisions themselves, but your thought process and suppositions that influence these decisions- in other words, thinking about how you are thinking. There is nothing of greater importance than leaders promoting cultures whereby all levels of employees are encouraged to ponder what they are doing and why they are doing it rather than just following the status quo. We must overcome Kant's transcendentalism idealism, which suggests that we inherit mental constructs that hinder us from seeing the world from other perspectives. We are all familiar with this dominant discourse through Champlain's IRP or integrated reflective practice framework, and I hope that you apply its principles for years to come.

One of the biggest ah-ha moments for me in my career thus far has been the value and importance of learning the personality types of my colleagues, the basis for my fourth tenet. Taking the time to figure out what makes people tick, and altering your behavior to facilitate their preferences is truly an art, albeit extremely challenging, but can forever change the way you look at and relate to people. The more you use this technique, the better you will become at it, and it can contribute significantly to your level of social intelligence, which is now a must for any leader. No longer will technical skills alone suffice- leaders from even the largest organizations have been let go because they possessed all the technical skills needed for the position, but lacked imperative social skills, such as empathy, compassion, and understanding. The bar for leaders is continuously being raised, but you can rise to meet this challenge!

As we gather here to celebrate our tireless studies and the closing of this period of our lives, we would be doing a disservice if we did not take the time to thank all of our friends, family, significant others, and loved ones for their patience, support, and understanding along every step of this journey. Please join me in applauding them....

Once again, from the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank you all for allowing me to be a part of the conclusion of this chapter of your lives and the commencement of the next chapter. The hard work has only just begun, but you are now better equipped to tackle all the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead.

My congratulations to the class of 2014!

President's Message: David F. Finney

President David FinneyWelcome, welcome....members all of the Champlain College Community. We gather today to honor the 82 members (of 114) of the Champlain College Masters Degree class of 2014 graduating here today. Congratulations!

Now, before the mood becomes too celebratory, I want to pause for a bit to remember some people who are not here. Like many here who attended college in the 1960's and 1970's, you graduates have watched members of your generation fight an unpopular war. Popular or not, the sacrifices that they have made - and continue to make - reflect their courage and commitment to this great country. In my nine years as President, this is the third commencement in which we have not been at war in Iraq. We rejoice in that. But our service men and women remain in Afghanistan. As of this past week 2,220 of those serving in Afghanistan have made the ultimate sacrifice. All of our lives are diminished as a result. Could you please stand as we pause for a moment of silence to honor those who have served and, in particular, those who have fallen.

....thank you. Please be seated.

It is especially gratifying to see so many of our distinguished faculty here. As you graduates know full well, Champlain's faculty are passionate about teaching and learning. They all take delight in recounting stories of when this or that student grasped a particularly difficult concept. They love to make a difference in the lives of their students. It is a privilege for me to call these committed professionals my colleagues.

I've been around colleges for a long time. If there is one thing I have learned it is this: not one of today's graduates got here alone. All of them have received the support and encouragement of someone close to them. So I would especially like to salute the families, partners and special friends who supported these graduating students. Congratulations to you and thank you for your perseverance!

It is a sacrifice to pursue graduate work and it is an honor to be here today with so many, who have sacrificed so much to get to this point. I am joined by the entire faculty in how impressed we have been by you.

In a few moments you graduates will join me up here on stage to receive the symbols of your degree - your hood and your diploma. The wording on the diploma you are about to receive says that, as a Champlain graduate, you are "entitled to all the rights and privileges which pertain thereto." Surely you have learned by now that every right comes with a responsibility and that every privilege is accompanied with obligations to serve.

We did not tell you this when we were recruiting you to attend Champlain College - that when you were finished we would expect you to be responsible and upstanding citizens, active servants to the communities in which you live.

But we do expect it of you: because in addition to the community where you will live, you are also now a member of a larger community of learned people. Your membership in that community comes with high expectations.

You know already that it isn't easy. This life you are living does not come equipped with a road map. So, and since this is a graduation, I have two small pieces of advice for you about how you might manage these new "rights and privileges".

The first is simply this: treat yourself fairly. Work hard, because you will feel good about it. And when you have worked well, be sure that someone knows about it. David Ogilve of the giant advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather addressed this principle with the following jingle:

The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she's done -
And so we scorn the codfish
While the humble hen we prize
It only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise!

The second piece of advice is to remember the larger community to which you now belong. As the owner of a new graduate degree, you are among the elite of your generation. With this status comes an obligation to your community, an obligation to give something back. Think about your community and your place in it. Think about what it needs; about what divides it.

Understand that there are always shades of gray to any issue that divides people and that important issues can virtually never be described accurately in black and white terms; that certitude of this type is the antithesis of true knowledge and, therefore, the antithesis of understanding and acceptance.

Respect diversity in all its many forms. Give generously of yourself. Your community needs you. We all need you. Chekov said that "Man is what he believes." I urge you to believe that you ARE the difference.

And so...daughters and sons of Champlain, you have earned a Master's degree. I know that my hopes for you are no higher than those you have for yourselves. I wish you all the best in attaining those dreams. Congratulations and Godspeed to each and every one of you!

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit