Somerville Resident Named Student Commencement Speaker

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Natasha M. Antoniak delivered the graduate student speech at the Wheelock College 2014 Commencement Ceremony.

Boston, MA (May 30, 2014) – Natasha M. Antoniak, a resident of Somerville, MA, was selected to deliver the 2014 student speech at Wheelock’s Graduate Commencement ceremony on May 16, 2014. This year’s Commencement ceremony celebrated “Innovation. Access. Opportunity,” with exceptional honorary degree recipients dedicated to increasing access to quality healthcare and education for children and families around the globe: Dr. Howard Koh, Mr. David Banks, and Ms. Mary Tiseo.

Antoniak graduated from Wheelock College with a Master of Science degree in Child Life and Family Centered Care. Since becoming the first college in the United States to institute an educational program in Child Life, Wheelock has earned a national reputation as a premiere program for the preparation of Child Life specialists. This innovative program prepares students to work as Child Life Specialists and child health and development specialists in a variety of healthcare settings. It includes clinical experiences and course work that prepare students to support the psychosocial and developmental needs of children of different ages, cultures, and medical conditions, as well as the needs of their families.

During her Commencement address, Antoniak shared a parable about mankind’s endless struggle between good and evil and encouraged her classmates to make the world a better place by ‘feeding the good.’ “So how can we also inspire a world of good and improve the lives of those around us?” she said. “In short, we too, must ‘feed the good.’ I believe this can happen as we internalize as well as employ the education we’ve received here as we go throughout the world and communities before us.” “Feeding the good leads to healing, resilience, and the perpetuation of more good,” Antoniak said. “Therefore, when we witness injustice, we must continue to stand and advocate and, thus, feed the good. When we face fierce disagreements or see conflict amidst communities, we must seek to genuinely understand rather than dismiss others and, thus, feed the good. When we see the lonely, poor in spirit, outcast and ill, we must love them—not avoid or neglect them—and feed the good.”

Keynote Speaker David C. Banks, president and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation, told graduates about his circuitous path to becoming an advocate for quality education. He started college as an engineering major before switching to political science and then attending law school. His advice to the graduating class is: “When you focus on something, have a clear goal, and put in the work to make it happen, the universe will conspire to make it.”

To see more Commencement photos and videos, read speech excerpts, and learn more about the 2014 honorees visit www.wheelock.edu/commencement.

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