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330 New Alumni Encouraged to Never Forget Why They Chose Education

Graduation 2017

RALEIGH, North Carolina — The 330 students who graduated from the NC State College of Education Saturday, May 13, will engage daily with the most pressing issues facing society, and they will work with children and families in the greatest need, College of Education Dean Mary Ann Danowitz said.

That extraordinary responsibility and opportunity will be rewarding but also come with challenging, frustrating and heartbreaking days. When those days come, Danowitz said in her commencement remarks, do not abandon hope and do not forget why you entered the field of education.

“There will be days when you say to yourself, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” she said. “When those days come, do not abandon your hope. Think about those special teachers and those counselors and those mentors who made a difference in your life. . . . . And think about why you have chosen the profession of education.”

Fourteen new College of Education alumni shared recently with why they chose education. They said they want to help children, youth and adults learn to read. They want to make mathematics more accessible to students. They want to encourage a girl to be a scientist. They want to give exceptional learners a place to belong. They want to help all children, youth and adults realize their potential.

“No other field comes close to giving you the opportunity and the expectation to touch so many lives and to transform entire schools and communities,” Danowitz said. “My hope is that you will use your passion and commitment, and the knowledge and skills you’ve gained here, to improve the life of every student, client, colleague or community member you interact with. My hope is that you will be a lot like that special teacher or person in your life who changed your world.”

The College of Education’s advisory board gave each graduating student a pin with the college’s emblem on it to remind the new alumni why they chose the profession of education. “Wear the pin with pride and with confidence, knowing that you are prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie before you,” Danowitz said.

Below are recaps of the two College of Education commencement ceremonies held Saturday:

Graduate Commencement Ceremony: ‘Stand For Whatever Your Passion Is’

Graduate Commencement 2017

Number of Graduates: 225

Charge to the Graduates Speaker: Ellen Murphy ’98, ’14 MED, the assistant dean of instructional technologies and design and director of Master of Studies in Law at the Wake Forest School of Law, as well as a member of the College of Education’s advisory board.

What She Said: “My first recommendation today is to take a stand for whatever [your] passion may be. Even when it’s not in vogue, especially if it’s not in vogue.” — Ellen Murphy ’98,’14 MED

What Else She said: “There likely has never been a harder time to do what you are about to do. There certainly has never been a more important one. We need you. North Carolina needs you.” — Ellen Murphy ’98,’14 MED

What the Dean Said: “Use your voice. Be willing to face the difficult issues and advocate for what is right. And don’t abandon hope. Hang in there, even on the days you don’t want to, and your legacy will be felt for generations to come.” — Dean Mary Ann Danowitz

Special Distinctions: Four groups of students were recognized for special distinctions:

  • 31 students who comprise the first graduating cohort of the New Literacies and Global Learning program
  • 14 graduates of the Northeast Leadership Academy, a program that collaborates with 14 rural, high-need school districts to prepare assistant principals and principals and to increase student achievement
  • 7 Principal Fellows, a competitive, merit-based scholarship program that provides enrichment experiences designed to enhance their preparation for a career in administration in a North Carolina public school
  • Members of Kappa Delta Phi, the internal honor society in education that represents the top 20 percent of educators worldwide

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Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony: ‘Rely On That Trusted Journey You Have Had’

Undergraduate Commencement Graduation 2017

Number of Graduates: 105

Charge to the Graduates Speaker: Michael Clinkscales ’98, ’02, ’12, an assistant principal at East Garner Middle School and a member of the College of Education advisory board

What He Said: “You’re going to have kids and students who come into your classroom and ask for your trust. How you hold their hand, rather figuratively or literally, will determine their next steps in life.” — Michael Clinkscales

What Else He Said: “Trust that you are ready. Trust that you are ready to be that classroom teacher who has the confidence and tools to face any hurdle. . . . NC State has had a number of slogans. Red means go. Think and Do. Today, I want you to trust and do.” — Michael Clinkscales

What the Dean Said: “You have more power than you can imagine. Use that power for good.” — Dean Mary Ann Danowitz

Special Recognitions: The college presented 17 awards to undergraduates, honored seven valedictorians, and recognized nearly three-dozen students who were involved in the Goodnight Scholars, University Scholars, Passport for Success, Students Advocating for Youth, and Teaching Fellows programs.

Education Council Outstanding Senior Awards

Elementary Education

  • Victoria “Tori” Rhodes

Mathematics (High School)

  • Margaret Leak

Middle Grades Language Arts and Social Studies Academic Achievement Award

  • Miranda Tjelta

Science Education (High School)

  • Brittany Taylor

Science Education (Middle School)

  • Mark McLean

Technology, Engineering, and Design Education

  • Megan Lynn Dobrinska

Departmental Awards

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education

Dr. John Park, Memorial Outstanding Senior Award in Science Education

  • Middle School: Mark McLean

Dr. John Park, Memorial Outstanding Senior Award in Science Education

  • High School: Taryn Vanderpoel

Dr. John Park, Memorial Outstanding Service Award in Science Education

  • Abbey Wood, Athens Drive High School

Eileen Williams Service Award in Mathematics Education

  • Ginger Moore Harrell, Athens Drive High School

Outstanding Service Award in Technology Education

  • David Trueblood, Apex Middle School

Epsilon Pi Tau Leadership Award

  • Carolyn Carter

Garland Kermit Hilliard Outstanding Student Achievement in Technology, Engineering, and Design Education

  • Jonathan Fyffe

Robert H. Hammond Outstanding Student Achievement in Graphic Communication Minor Award

  • Erica J Holmsen

Teacher Education and Learning Sciences

Dr. Jimmy Scherrer Outstanding Senior Service Award

  • Cayla Green

Middle Grades Language Arts and Social Studies Arnold/Dalton Award

  • Kalen Whitehead

Middle Grades Language Arts and Social Studies Merit Award

  • Hannalee Alrutz

Goodnight Scholars Program

  • Carlos McClaney
  • Rebeka Townsend

University Scholars Program

  • Kayla Barker
  • Rachel Coffman
  • Hannah Cooke
  • Hannah Hunt
  • Lauren Maxwell
  • Rachel Nisbet
  • Tori Rhodes
  • Miranda Tjelta
  • Courtney Wagoner
  • Ethan Wicker

Passport for Success Program

  • Rayven Malone Casada
  • Kristian Victoria Marlowe
  • Carolyn Elizabeth Carter
  • Mariam Elias
  • Melissa F. Goto
  • Cayla Janelle Green
  • Hannah Marie Hunt
  • April Kate Storm
  • Margaret Leak

Students Advocating for Youth (SAY) Program

  • Ivy Briggs
  • Carolyn Carter
  • Kaitlyn Colvin
  • Melissa F. Goto
  • Cayla Green
  • Ashley Hendren
  • Hannah Hunt
  • Rebekah Johnson
  • Abigail Lutz
  • Kristian Marlowe
  • Mayra Navarro
  • April Storm
  • Miranda Tjelta
  • Courtney Wagoner

Teaching Fellows Program

  • Mayra Navarro


  • Hannah Christine Cooke
  • Kelsey Renee Bansek
  • Rachel Michelle Nisbet
  • Rebeka Lee Townsend
  • Taryan Vanderpoel
  • Melissa F. Goto
  • Victoria Anne Rhodes

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