Gerald Sill gives remarks on behalf of the graduating BA class at the 2022 Ford School Commencement. April, 2022.
Thank you, Betsey. Now we’ll hear from the student elected to speak from the bachelor’s class of 2022, Gerald Sill. Gerald has earned a minor in urban studies along with his BA in public policy. While at Michigan, Gerald has held internships and jobs with the Washtenaw County Public Defender’s office; the Center on Finance, Law, and Policy; Organizational Studies; ISR; and Media Matters for America. That’s in addition to working for the Michigan Daily and serving as Treasurer for the Students of Color in Public Policy. Gerald is headed to Seattle, where he’ll take a position as career consulting analyst at Mercer. I’m so pleased to welcome Gerald Sill to the podium -- Thank Dean Barr Good evening distinguished faculty and staff of the Ford School, friends and family, and graduates of the Ford School's Class of 2022. I must admit when Dean Barr informed me that the Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy would be renamed the Gerald R Sill School of Public Policy, I was a little shocked Obviously, the accomplishments that Dean Barr just listed speak for themselves Dean Barr: *interjection* [turn around to Dean Barr] Oh we're not doing that? Are you sure? Dean Barr: *interjection* We share the same first name and middle initial, the rebranding costs would be minimal. Dean Barr: *interjection* Oh okay. [turn back to audience] Sorry, I was just informed that's not why we're here today [mime flipping through papers] It's an honor to be part of such an incredible graduating class filled with Angell Scholars, MLK Spirit Award Winners, Former Hill and government Interns, and the organizers of the senior class BAR crawl. I'm so proud of all of you for persevering through a pandemic and zoom university, Professor Stevenson's microeconomics class, and many other challenges to get to this moment. Over the past few days you have likely received many well deserved congratulations! From family friends. Followed by the questions: so what exactly is public policy? and what does one do with a degree in public policy? If anyone knows the answer to that question please see me after the ceremony, so you can tell my mother. Many of us chose to study public policy because we wanted to make an impact and help change the world for the better, from combating climate change to reducing economic inequality to fighting for racial justice. Or in my case you were looking for a major that would allow you to avoid taking Michigan Math. In all seriousness, I am so excited to see what all of you smart, talented, and kind graduates will accomplish. From becoming business leaders to policymakers to judges and professors. Sometimes I worry about the future, but as I look amongst this incredible cohort, I know that the world is in good hands. Right up the road from us here on Hill Street, is the Gerald R. Sill - I mean - Ford School and right next to Weill Hall is the Chabad House. For the past couple years as I've walked past I have often seen a message scroll by on the electronic sign outside that reads the world depends on your one good deed. When I first saw that message my initial reaction was wow that's a lot of pressure and well I better do something big. For a long time I thought that the only way to truly make an impact was to do something grand like how in a romantic comedy professions of love come from holding up a boombox outside a window or stopping someone from getting on a plane. In the public policy world it would be analogous to passing groundbreaking legislation or giving a rousing speech that turns public opinion. However, I have come to realize that to make an impact you don't necessarily need to do something big. Graduates, when we reflect on the moments that helped us reach this point we likely do not think of extravagant gestures but rather small moments of sacrifice, kindness, or empathy, from a parent rushing us to soccer practice after a long day of work to a professor staying after class to answer a question to a friend checking up on us when we've gone a little too hard at the senior bar crawl. I hope that I can serve as proof that even little things can make a big difference. So to not only the Ford BA class of 2022, but everyone here, I hope that you will seize the opportunity every day to do one good deed and then another and then another. The world depends on it. Congratulations to the Ford Graduates of 2022 and Forever Go Blue!