Past pioneers address future leaders at commencement

A version of this article appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Erikson on Children under the headline “Caps and gowns.” More from this issue »

At Erikson’s 45th commencement ceremony, 91 graduates received their master’s degrees in child development or early childhood education, and one a doctoral degree in child development.

Image: Erikson graduation 2012

President Samuel J. Meisels, Heidelise Als, and T. Berry Brazelton

Honorary doctorates were awarded to T. Berry Brazelton, clinical professor of pediatrics emeritus at Harvard Medical School, and Heidelise Als, director of neurobehavioral infant and child studies at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to watch Als’s remarks and the welcome given by Kate Neisser, chair of the Erikson Board of Trustees.

Als gives stirring commencement address

Als is internationally recognized for her formulation of and research on relationship-based developmental care in neonatal intensive care units. Her work has had a profound impact on infant development, family engagement, and systems of care. In her commencement address, Als called on students to trust themselves, say ‘yes’ to opportunities, and recognize that they will shape future generations.

“Enjoy the moment, and the picture of your life will continue to refine itself,” said Als. “Children and families everywhere, professionals and politicians, will count on you; you will be in the right place at the right time; which will always be ‘the here’ and ‘the now’.”

Video of Als’s remarks at Erikson’s commencement ceremony. Watch on YouTube.

Brazelton challenges graduates

Dr. Brazelton is best known for his pioneering research on parent-infant relationships and developing the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale, which assesses physical and neurological responses of newborns as well as their emotional well-being and individual differences.

Remarking on his honorary degree, Dr. Brazelton said, “I am so proud to be awarded this honorary degree by Erikson and to have become a member of the Erikson family.”

To the graduates he presented this challenge: “Your mission is to ensure that all children that you have a chance to interact with grow up to be adults who have the resilience to cope with adversity, to strengthen their communities, to participate actively in civic life, to steward our fragile planet’s limited resources, and [to] nurture the next generation to be prepared to do the same.”

Neisser welcomes graduating students

Video of Neisser’s welcome remarks at Erikson’s commencement ceremony. Watch on YouTube.