Class of 2017: Prepared to be leaders in the field

At our commencement ceremony, speakers encouraged graduates to rise to the challenges presented in ‘times of uncertainty.’

It was one of the highlights of Erikson’s 50th Anniversary year: More than 70 students were cheered on by family and friends as they celebrated their dedication to children and families with an Erikson degree.

Graduates left the ceremony with master’s degrees in child development, early childhood education, and social work—and also with a yellow rose, a tradition that dates back to Erikson’s earliest commencement ceremonies. One individual, Bilge Cerezci, received a white rose for receiving her doctoral degree.

“These are times of uncertainty, transition, and palpable change,” said Geoffrey A. Nagle, PhD, president and chief executive officer of Erikson. “No matter where your Erikson degree takes you, I challenge you to rise as leaders. For all children to truly have an equitable opportunity to achieve their full potential— this begins with each of us.”



Erikson also presented two distinguished individuals with honorary degrees. The recipients were Gigi Pritzker, a businesswoman and noted Chicago philanthropist whose work focuses on mental health, education, violence prevention, arts and culture; and Cynthia García Coll, PhD, a professor of psychology and associate director of the Institutional Center for Scientific Research at Alibizu University in San Juan, Puerto Rico, whose work focuses on sociocultural and biological influences on child development, especially for children at risk.

In her keynote address, Dr. Coll said the ideals that Erikson was founded on 50 years ago are very much still alive today as the country continues to face challenges of inequality.

“Welcome to the beautiful struggle, Class of 2017,” she said. “We have been waiting for you all this time.”