Gratz College graduated 110 students on May 6 during a ceremony in the Weisbein auditorium. The college’s 118th commencement included keynote speech from Dr. Wagner Marseille, superintendent of the Cheltenham School District. For the past nine months, the school district has partnered with Gratz College to explore ways to curb school violence before it starts.
Gratz also used the commencement to confer an honorary doctorate on Josey Fisher, director of the Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive and instructor in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program. Alan Dershowitz, a renowned attorney and scholar, also received an honorary doctorate.
During the commencement exercises, valedictorian Talli Dippold, who earned her master’s degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, reminded students that when one door of life closes, another one opens.
“For all of us here, a new gate has opened, and the timing could not be better because the world needs us,” she said. “I believe our task is to close the door on the darkness and hatred that exists in our world and open the door to the light of understanding through education. We must embrace everyone with empathy and work toward justice.”
In the two years since Dippold began studying at Gratz, the landscape of the world has changed, she said. The rhetoric of hate has increased dramatically.
“The forces of time and human nature have opened the door for those who wish to rewrite history,” she said. She urged her fellow graduates to “shed light on darkness and hate and open a door to peace and understanding.” ■