June 12, 2020

Together, We Can Build a Stronger and More Just World

On June 11th, the Evans School community came together to celebrate the graduating class of 2020 and the culmination of their years of hard work in pursuit of graduate degrees in public administration and public policy and management. Thank you to our graduates’ families and loved ones, our faculty and staff, members of the Advisory Board, and our distinguished keynote speakers U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal and Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez for joining us. If you were unable to attend, you can watch the full convocation ceremony here.

In my convocation address, I reflected that our students are graduating into a world in crisis. We are in a period of protest following the unconscionable killing of George Floyd, the latest of countless victims of systemic racism, racial hatred, and police brutality.  We are also in the midst of a pandemic that has isolated us, left many suffering loss, and has focused a separate lens on inequity and injustice, as its health and economic impacts have been disproportionately borne by communities of color, especially Black Americans.

Moments of crisis present us with great opportunity and great responsibility. The need for strong public policy and skillful public leadership has never been greater, and I am heartened by our graduates’ unwavering commitment to making racial justice actionable and to leading change. It gives me tremendous hope for our future.

Historian Yuval Harari has said, “We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and that we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we can imagine.” 

Throughout my time at the Evans School, I have challenged students to envision the future and to think about the limitless possibilities of their own potential impact. Today we ponder the same questions they have tackled each year: What will the future bring? Where will my unique passions and skills be most impactful? And how can I use my privilege and power to amplify the voices and needs of others?

The future may feel uncertain, but amidst the uncertainty, I have faith that Evans School graduates and alums will continue to rise to the challenge. In your hands, and with time and tremendous effort, we will emerge from this period as a stronger and more just world.