Reflections from Dean Jamelle Wilson

May 7, 2020
Dean Wilson reflects on celebrating without Commencement

On behalf of the entire faculty and staff of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies, I extend our most heart-felt congratulations to the Class of 2020! Commencement is a special time for our graduates, the culmination of years of persistence, hard work and sacrifice, and it’s my pleasure to celebrate this special day with each of you.

Among this graduating class are “first generation” graduates, individuals whose parents have not completed a bachelor’s degree. Also among this graduating class are parents, grandparents, career-switchers, community volunteers, public servants, and so many more.

Each of you made a deliberate commitment to chart your own course to achieving a degree, and with your focus and the support of family, professional colleagues and your classmates you’ve reached the end of this leg of your journey. I am truly honored to share a few comments with you as we pause to celebrate each of you and your accomplishments today. Congratulations!

As you might imagine, over the past six or seven weeks, I, like many of you, have been trying to make sense of the time we find ourselves living through. I’ve also found myself thinking about the many ways we all have been called upon to adjust our routines and lives, our thinking, and our outlook. In my thinking, I keep coming back to the New Year. As we celebrated the beginning of a new decade in January, I noticed a number of posts on social media platforms, blogs and podcasts talking about the new year and what the year 2020 might signal for us, many drawing a metaphor between the year (2020) and perfect vision (20/20).

In optometric terms, 20/20 vision represents the level of sharpness or clarity of vision one has at 20 feet away from an object. As laypeople, we often think of a measurement of 20/20 on a vision test as indicating perfect vision. Medically, however, we know that one’s total vision is actually a combination of measures: sharpness of vision at a distance, peripheral vision, eye coordination, depth perception, focus, and color vision.

As the Class of 2020, we know your journey to SPCS, through your coursework at SPCS, has been about improving your vision and expanding the clarity with which you see the world around you. Whether maintaining a clear view of and focus on your goals over time; anticipating the inevitable challenges that come (seemingly out of nowhere) with managing home, work, school, and community commitments; changing course on the fly when necessary; or embracing and growing from the diversity represented in your classmates, your journey here in SPCS has helped enhance your vision of the world and your place in it.

Since I was in elementary school, I’ve always loved to read — especially books whose language invites me into the author’s mind, books whose language paints a vivid, clear picture for the reader. I like to think of each of our lives as a book made up of a series of chapters, each representing a specific time and season — one well-written, picture-painting chapter leading successively and with anticipation to the next.

Years from now when you pull out your life’s book and look back at the chapter represented by your time in the School of Professional & Continuing Studies, I know you will be reminded of the themes of determination and endurance; you also may note that this chapter contained periods of uncertainty, struggle and doubt. But most importantly, I hope this chapter reminds you of how this part of your life’s journey expanded your view and helped you on your quest to see perfectly — with 20/20 vision.

Congratulations, Class of 2020.