Category Archives: Commencement

Civil Rights Leader John Lewis Tells Goodwin Grads to “Speak Out,” “Vote”

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Congressman John Lewis told the graduates of Goodwin College to “go out and help remake our society” during the 2014 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, June 7.

Lewis, the last remaining “Big Six” leader of the American civil rights movement who worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr., was honored alongside the 2014 Goodwin College graduates and legendary UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun.

“I’m honored to be honored with you,” Lewis told the Goodwin graduates upon receiving his honorary degree from the College.

Lewis urged the assembled graduates to vote, stressing the importance of voting no matter how you voted.

“The vote controls everything that you do,” Lewis said. “The vote is precious. It’s almost sacred, so go out and vote like you never voted before.”

On March 7, 1965, in Selma, Ala., Lewis was beaten almost to death when he led more than 600 peaceful protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to demonstrate the need for equal voting rights.  Coverage of the event helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Lewis stressed the important of nonviolence when urging the graduates to “get into good trouble. Necessary trouble.”

“Be bold!  Be courageous!  Speak out!  Speak out.  Never hate.  Be hopeful.  Be optimistic.  Be happy.  The way of love, the way of peace is a better way,” Lewis said.

Goodwin President Mark Scheinberg called Lewis a national treasure, saying, “In a world of Mandelas and Ghandis, he’s one of America’s own.”

Speaking to the Goodwin graduates, Scheinberg lauded their struggles, hard work, and accomplishment, saying he wanted to “treasure and canonize you a bit.”

“Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your lives,” Scheinberg said.

Class Valedictorian Rebecca Whiting, who received her bachelor’s in Nursing, said that after difficulties with scheduling and flexibility at other schools, Goodwin helped her to truly achieve.

“Goodwin College gets it,” Whiting said. “They understand us.”

Class speaker Jenette Davis, a 58-year-old mother of six who earned her associate’s degree in Human Services, said she had to overcome a lot to return to school.  But her experiences with Goodwin helped her to overcome those fears.

“You can overcome any fear if you set yourself in a position to believe,” Davis said. “We are living our dream!”

Davis’s son, Shane Davis, sang the National Anthem at his mother’s graduation. Shane is also a student at the College.

Coach Calhoun also received an honorary degree from the College, and asked the graduates to consider their voice and how they were going to be heard by the world.

“How is your voice going to be heard?” Calhoun asked. “How is your voice going to affect us?”

Calhoun urged the students to use their voices to aid others, saying, “You never stand so tall as when you stoop to help another.”

See more photographs from Goodwin’s 2014 graduation here!

Click here to view the ceremony on demand.

By: Rob Muirhead

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Jenette Davis: Commencement 2014 Student Speaker

Human Services student Jenette Davis has been chosen as one of two student speakers for Goodwin College’s 2014 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, June 7. She shares the stage with valedictorian Rebecca Whiting.

New ImageDavis’ drive, commitment, and involvement in the life of the College were among the many reasons she was selected to address the audience of students, faculty, trustees, family, and friends. Often seen giving advice, interacting with others, and sharing the wisdom of her experiences, Davis is well respected and appreciated by everyone in the Goodwin community.

“I was excited, surprised, overwhelmed, and very proud that I was asked to speak at Commencement,” Davis said.

Not only is Davis is a student, she is the wife of a pastor, mother of six (including her son, Shane, a current Goodwin student), grandmother of eight, foster mother of six, CREW member, and desk assistant at Goodwin’s Academic Success Center and Math Lab.

Enrolling in Goodwin’s Human Services program has enabled her to pursue her true passion: helping others. She plans to use her degree to enhance the work of the church, and she endeavors to be of service to young, single mothers. “I want them to know they can do whatever it is they desire, and education is a key part of that,” Davis stated.

Commencement 2014 will truly be a family affair for Davis. Her son, Shane, will be singing the national anthem at the beginning of the ceremony. “I’m delighted and proud of my son. It means so much that he’s singing on the day that I’m graduating,” she noted.

Davis is already continuing her education at Goodwin even before Commencement. She enrolled in the bachelor’s program and has begun classes.

Davis wishes her fellow graduates luck. “To everyone: a job well done. Continue to follow your dreams, no matter the circumstance.”

By: Hannah Stacy

Goodwin Commencement Honors Congressman & Coach

Goodwin College Honors UConn Coach and Civil Rights Activist with Honorary Doctorates

On Saturday, June 7, at 10 a.m., Goodwin College will hold its 15th Commencement exercises on the grounds of the main campus at One Riverside Drive in East Hartford. In a ceremony overseen by President Mark Scheinberg, the board of trustees, and faculty, graduating students will receive their certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degree in a number of programs. This year’s guest speakers are civil rights advocate U.S. Congressman John Lewis of Georgia and legendary UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun. Lewis’ participation is especially fitting as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Each guest speaker will have the opportunity to address the graduates after receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the College.

John Lewis

Often called “one of the most courageous persons [of] the Civil Rights Movement,” Congressman John Lewis has dedicated his life to human rights. Inspired by the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., he joined the Civil Rights Movement, organizing sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and participating in the Freedom Rides. At the height of the Movement, Lewis was named Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. At 23, he was a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington.

In 1965, Lewis helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement, leading over 600 peaceful protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” News broadcasts and photographs of the event helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Despite myriad arrests and physical attacks, Lewis remained an advocate of nonviolence. He continued his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement as Associate Director of the Field Foundation and through his participation in the Southern Regional Council’s voter registration programs. Lewis went on to become the Director of the Voter Education Project, adding nearly four million minorities to the voter rolls.

In 1977, John Lewis was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency.

He was elected to Congress in 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since then. He is Senior Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

He is the recipient of the Medal of Freedom, the Lincoln Medal, the Golden Plate Award, the Preservation Hero Award, the Capital Award of the National Council of La Raza, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the NAACP Spingarn Medal, the National Education Association Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award, and the “Profile in Courage Award.”

Jim Calhoun

Jim Calhoun arrived in Connecticut in 1986, hired to turn around the UConn men’s basketball program. Calhoun not only turned it around, he raised it to one of the nation’s pre-eminent athletic programs.

Calhoun has served the community off the court as well, using his success to champion many causes. He and his wife, Pat, are well known for their philanthropy including the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn and the annual Jim Calhoun Holiday Food Drive, which has raised nearly $1 million to support food assistance agencies that serve families in need throughout Connecticut. In 1998, a $125,000 gift from the Calhouns established the Jim and Pat Calhoun Cardiology Research Fund at the UConn Health Center. Since then over $9 million has been raised. The Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament was launched in 1999 and has since raised millions in support of the endowment fund.

In 2003 and 2004, Calhoun served as celebrity host of “Hoops For Hope” by Coaches vs. Cancer, a program established by the American Cancer Society, raising over $400,000. The Big Y Jim Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride statewide event benefits The Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UConn Health Center.

For many years, Calhoun has been the Honorary Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, which has generated over $4.5 million to fund diabetes research. Calhoun has also served as an Honorary Chairperson/Director for other charitable programs including the Ronald McDonald House Kids Classic Golf Tournament, the Ray of Hope Foundation Golf Tournament, the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Children’s Miracle Network, and the “Character Counts” program in Connecticut.