‘Go Out and Serve,’ Acclaimed Educator Tells Delaware Valley University Class of 2019

May 20, 2019

‘Go Out and Serve,’ Acclaimed Educator Tells Delaware Valley University Class of 2019

Credit: Delaware Valley University. Dr. Thomas-EL speaking at Delaware Valley University's Commencement on Saturday, May 18.

Delaware Valley University awarded 350 bachelor’s degrees and 60 master’s degrees at the 2019 Commencement ceremony, held May 18 under a tent on the quad.

The University also awarded honorary degrees, to the Honorable Dominic M. Cermele, a longtime public servant and civic leader, and acclaimed educator and author Dr. Salome Thomas-EL, who also addressed the graduates as this year’s Commencement speaker.

In his remarks, Dr. Thomas-EL, the head of Thomas Edison Charter School in Wilmington, Delaware, emphasized themes of sacrifice and service. He noted that the graduates’ parents, family members and friends had worked hard to give them the opportunity of education, and he urged them to keep that in mind as they moved on to the next chapters in their lives.

“So, as you graduate and you go on and you begin to think about ‘What is my mission?’ I want you to understand it is for you to go out and serve,” Dr. Thomas-EL said. “And if you ever, ever think that service is beneath you, I want you to know that leadership will always be beyond you.”

Opening the ceremony, Dr. Benjamin Rusiloski, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, noted a unique feature of many of this year’s graduates. 

“The Class of 2019 is the first class to enter DelVal as a university in 2015 and the first to graduate from it four years later,” he said to cheers. “You made the university your own. You now have the knowledge and skills to go out and change the world. Your university is proud of you. You are DVU.”

Dr. Thomas-EL echoed Dr. Rusiloski’s call to the graduates to foster change.

“I want you to understand that I came here today to ask you just one thing,” he said. “To ask you to follow your journey. To follow your path and understand that you must choose impact over compliance. And don’t be afraid to get mad. Please, go out and make a difference. And stop praying for a lighter load and start praying for a stronger back.”