More than 700 Harvard Extension School (HES) degree candidates and their guests gathered for the school’s second Convocation inside of Memorial Church this weekend. Students traveled from as far as China, Japan, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Canada, as well as from across the United States, to celebrate the event.
As guests filled the pews to the sounds of the Radcliffe Pitches before the start of the ceremony, the degree candidates assembled for a group photo on the steps of Memorial Church alongside Dean of the Division of Continuing Education Hunt Lambert, HES Dean of Academic Programs Suzanne Spreadbury Ph.D., Ed.M. ’93 and HES Dean of Students Robert Neugeboren ’83 and the event’s speakers.
An opening invocation was given by Interim Pusey Minister at the Memorial Church Professor Stephanie Paulsell who said she felt a special connection to the day’s event due to her decade’s long experience of teaching at HES.
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Keynote speaker Ramon Sanchez, research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), expressed his passion for teaching students at HES, who in many cases are simultaneously working while going to school.
“All of you have earned your way into Harvard, and most of you did it while working full time and dealing with everything that life throws at you,” he said. “This Convocation is our way to thank you, for inspiring all of the Harvard community with your dedication, perseverance and faith.”
Dean Spreadbury spoke about the diversity amongst the degree candidates, highlighting that students studying at HES come from 49 states, more than 50 countries and more than 100 are active duty or veterans in the military; “likely the largest admitted cohort of military students at the University,” Spreadbury said.
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Newly elected Harvard Extension Alumni Association President Michael Fabiano A.L.M. ’16 welcomed the cohort into the HES family. He spoke about how his experience changed him and made him a better student and learner.
“When you complete this program, you simply cannot leave without taking on the responsibility that this institution imbues upon you, to lead and make real difference,” Fabiano said. “Harvard challenges all of us, to create positive change in the world.”
Dean Lambert capped the event by thanking the students for making his tenure as dean so fulfilling. This year’s convocation would be his last. Lambert announced his retirement last month and will leave his position in December.
Lambert expressed how important it was to continue the progress they have made at HES. “It really is an incredible accomplishment that all of you have achieved and one important step in your life-long journey of learning,” he said. “What we have achieved at Harvard Extension, along with what you are working toward, is what it takes for Harvard to remain the great global university in the 21st century.”