Gallaudet University conferred 227 undergraduate and 180 graduate degrees during its 146th Commencement exercises, held at the university’s Field House on Friday, May 13, 2016.*

Dr. Bobbie Beth Scoggins, E-’77, a deaf advocate, athlete, scholar, educator, and performing artist, served as the Commencement speaker and received the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Scoggins was the fourth woman president of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and is currently the director of statewide outreach services at the Educational Resource Center on Deafness at the Texas School for the Deaf.

She competed twice in the Deaflympics and is a silver medalist. Later, she became the first woman to be elected president of the USA Deaf Sports Federation. Scoggins is also an actor and has performed across the U.S. and on Broadway, and has appeared on television, including commercials.

“You graduates must always stand up for what you were taught, how you were taught and why you were taught to respect yourselves and others,” said Scoggins. “You must be willing to take risks, co-exist with others, and be honest with yourself. After all, it’s your journey since you now have the tools, skills, and knowledge. At the same time, you must maintain your attention, attitude, and discipline. Life won’t be fair in some situations, but you must prevail while always being vigilant for your rights, your privileges, and your dignity.”

Two student speakers, Ardavan Guity and Tong Song, addressed the graduating class. Guity, from Tehran, Iran, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Deaf Studies, and spoke on behalf of the undergraduate class. Tong Song, ’13, from Beijing, China, graduated with a Master of Public Administration degree, spoke on behalf of the graduate student class.

“Through our years at Gallaudet, we have collected many things into our bag, such as knowledge, leadership, and accomplishments,” said Guity. “We won’t just leave after we graduate, we will share what is in our bag, and teach and support deaf children all around the world while they grow up. We will fuel their educational growth when they come to our home here at Gallaudet University. You will continue to dream and influence the world in ever widening ripples.”

“Our graduation is not the end, it is the start of something new,” said Song. “Do not wait to start making a difference in this world. Start to make contributions to your professions, communities, and families now! Build on what you have learned here at Gallaudet to envision what you have never imagined before, to demonstrate that we, as deaf people, can succeed at whatever we put our minds to do. Join a profession, contribute to society, and show the world that as deaf people we can make a difference.”

The Commencement was the first for Gallaudet’s new president, Roberta J. Cordano.

“I look at you and I see Gallaudet’s legacy, I see a community of learners,” said Cordano. “I’ve been here a short time, and I have learned so much! I’ve learned what an excellent University this is. I am able to reflect on the successes of the presidents who served Gallaudet before me-and I honor their contributions. When you walk off this stage, cherish Gallaudet as I do. Honor your alma mater when you meet people and continue to learn and grow.”

Also at Commencement, Drs. Cynthia Neese Bailes and Marilyn Ann Sass-Lehrer from the Gallaudet Department of Education and Dr. Donna M. Mertens, from the department of educational foundations and research, received professor emeritus status.
*The number of degrees conferred is approximate and has not yet been confirmed by the university’s Office of the Registrar.

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