Pam Tucker, Administration & Supervision
As a graduate of the University of Virginia, you have assumed a major commitment of the university community at large to contribute to the public good. As a graduate of the Curry School of Education, you have acquired the necessary knowledge and skills to fulfill this moral duty in powerful ways unattainable by most of your peers.
Thomas Jefferson recognized that “knowledge is power,” and whether you become a practitioner, researcher, policymaker, or citizen advocate on behalf of educational opportunities for others, you have a responsibility to use this power in meaningful and positive ways. You have the tools to contribute to a more promising future for individuals and society at large. You understand the transformative potential of education, and I challenge you to envision how you can put your talents to work in pursuit of the public good.
As members of the university community, we are awed but sometimes irreverent about Thomas Jefferson as the father
of this great university. You need to travel only a short distance from Charlottesville to gain a proper perspective on his greatness, defined by the depth of his thought, breadth of his knowledge, and contributions to the public good.
Despite his many achievements in politics and the sciences, however, Thomas Jefferson considered the founding of the University of Virginia as one of his greatest. Near the end of his life as he considered his own legacy to the nation, education became a passion for him. He recognized its inherent value to individuals and its inextricable relationship to the future of the young republic. He believed in the “illimitable freedom of the human mind” for both personal fulfillment and a free society.
As a graduate of this institution and beneficiary of Jefferson’s vision, you have been privileged with an educational experience that empowers you to act in ways that further Jefferson’s and the university’s goal. Your studies at
Curry have further enhanced your understanding of education as a lever for both personal transcendence and social change.
Education can and does change lives on an individual level and, by extension, on a larger scale. As a practitioner or citizen you will experience those thrilling moments of altering someone’s future by your intervention. My first such moment came when I was teaching science in rural North Carolina and recommended one of my students for placement in the state’s math and science magnet program. She was African American and from a poor, working
class family. I can still see the faces of the Janeen’s parents, who were both proud and fearful as I suggested that she might pursue a career in medicine. Her mother meekly asked if I meant as a nurse and I said “No, as a doctor.”
Both parents were astonished, but Janeen pursued her dream and is now a medical researcher. Changing the course of this student’s life was a fleeting but defining moment in my career, and its power has sustained me through many years of my professional career. Education can and does change lives on an individual level and, by extension, on a larger scale.
You have an opportunity to create your own moments and change the future of those with whom you work. Through your research, practice, or influence on policy, you can change schools and institutions of higher education for the better and provide those you touch with richer, fuller lives. Collectively, our large and small actions can have a ripple effect and transform society, here and around the globe. Our knowledge is power. Use it well. Commit yourselves to advancing the public good as an expression of your appreciation for lessons learned at Jefferson’s university and the Curry School of Education.