On May 16, 2010, the Bloustein School honored 81 master's level students and doctoral candidates at its 7th annual convocation. The master's candidates included 42 Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP), 17 Master of Public Policy (MPP), six Master of City and Regional Studies (MCRS), two MCRP/Juris Doctor (JD), one MCRP/MPP, and nine Master of Public Affairs and Politics (MPAP). Three doctoral candidates also completed their studies.
“On behalf of the faculty and staff, I would like to offer our graduates, their families, their spouses, and their friends our sincere congratulations on successfully traversing a long and difficult road,” said James W. Hughes, Dean of the Bloustein School. “And I also offer our congratulations for an academic task exquisitely accomplished.
“You are graduating from one of the most vibrant and distinguished schools at Rutgers, one with an internationally distinguished faculty, superb staff, and—of course—an outstanding student community.”
Holt to Graduates: Think Like Scientists
“It is a great honor to be with you today, on your day of achievement, you day of celebration, your day of anticipation,” said Congressman Holt. “I’ve come to congratulate you and to give you a charge, as you turn to apply your hard-earned skills in a country facing multiple challenges. … America also has a great tradition of success. But on what does this prosperity depend? Certainly a smart, hardworking, well-trained workforce, and new ideas."
Holt encouraged the Bloustein graduates to work to regenerate the pervasive, but perhaps lost, American tradition of thinking like a scientist. He noted that for more than two centuries every farmer, shopkeeper, and manufacturer thought like a scientist, determining how things worked and how they could be made better. This, he said, came to be known as Yankee ingenuity and good-old American know-how.
“With degrees from the Bloustein School, you become citizens of a higher order… you are now positioned to contribute more than you ever have before to our country. To lead—not, I trust, in an arrogant or dictatorial sense—,” he continued “But to lead in a sense of helping a determined and deserving population make progress toward its ideals, toward a fullness of life, liberty, and happiness. You are choosing public service … because in this self-governing country we are all governors. We are all legislators. You are positioned to give your special skills, your special expertise, and your special analysis, to our national experiment. Don’t turn away."
The Outstanding Student Academic Achievement Award, given to the student who has been designated by the faculty for the highest academic excellence in the urban planning and policy development program, was presented to Elizabeth Cox (MCRP). Morgan Transue (MPP) was presented the Outstanding Student Academic Achievement Award for the highest academic excellence in the policy program.
The Outstanding Student Service awards, given to those student nominated by his or her peers and then selected by a faculty committee, who is designated as providing the highest level of service to his or her community in the School and at large in their respective program. The 2010 urban planning and policy service award was presented to McCaela Daffern (MCRP). Daffern served as the president of the Rutgers Association of Planning and Public Policy Students (RAPPS), helping organize the group’s open house as well as undergraduate mentoring programs. She was also involved with fundraising for the RAPPS scholarship program; worked with Bloustein faculty to improve the planning curriculum, and facilitated networking social events with other planning programs in the New York/New Jersey area. David Greenblatt (MPP) was presented with the Outstanding Service Award for the policy program. Greenblatt served as the vice president of policy for RAPPS, and also helped organize a group of students to represent the Bloustein School at the annual APPAM policy conference in Washington, D.C. He also served as a point of contact for prospective students about the Bloustein MPP program, including visiting TCNJ to speak with undergraduate students about the Bloustein School.
Professor Burchell also presented the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) award to Lisa Dewey-Mattia. This award is presented to a student in recognition of outstanding attainment in the study of planning.
Professor Robert Lake, director of the Doctoral Program in Planning and Public Policy, recognized the three students completing their doctoral studies—Dr. Luis Balula, Dr. Gwendolyn Harris, and Dr. Mi Shih. The three candidates were formally conferred their degrees through the Graduate School-New Brunswick. Professor Burchell noted that the dissertations completed by the three candidates represent the depth and breadth of issues in planning and public policy.
MCRP graduate Daniel Fatton was chosen by his peers to represent his class in a brief convocation speech. He challenged everyone to go out into the world and make something happen. “In a time of unprecedented challenges, we need bold, innovative, new plans and policies from those of us graduating as master’s of planning and policy—but also from ordinary citizens. We need inventive ideas in our local communities, in all levels of state and national government, and globally.”
“I am here to implore you to think bigger. Start with a single home, a street, a neighborhood. Because despite the unending concern about our economy, we have other enormous challenges that must be faced with urgency. … Graduates, I hope that you will join me in making cognizant decisions, pushing beyond routine strip malls and large-lot Greenfield development. Let’s help everyone by truly creating sustainable communities for our future.”
Policy graduate Nakeefa Bernard was chosen by the MPP students to present remarks on behalf of the class. “Today, I stand before you not just as your colleague or peer, but also as your friend. We’ve spent the last two years together studying with some of the most respected professionals in our field,” Bernard began. “They have helped shape us into the future leaders in our industries—something I am incredibly grateful to be a part of. The piece of paper that we will all receive today cannot begin to reflect our value as Bloustein School alumni. We are more than just a bank of knowledge; we are a network of individuals that share common experiences and a common purpose.”
In reflecting on the time spent at the Bloustein School, Bernard noted that one of the most important aspects of their two-year education was the opportunity to develop a sense of community. With this in mind, Bernard challenged her fellow graduates “to enter your workplace with a purpose and a plan to make a difference in the communities that you serve. If we all promise to do this, and we work together while we do it, then we may begin to solve some of the problems we have been studying for the past two years.”
“My hope is that we will all use what we’ve gained here to make waves in this great nation. We are at point in American history where it becomes more crucial that we work together rather than alone. We can make a difference in our own lives, we can make a difference in the lives of others, or we can do both. That choice is all up to us.”
Dean Hughes concluded the ceremony with congratulations and encouraged the new graduates to take an active part in the Bloustein community as part of the alumni association, and formally conferred the degrees of the class of 2010 of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
Later in the afternoon of May 16, Rutgers University conducted the 244th Anniversary Commencement ceremony at Voorhees Mall. The Bloustein School graduated 122 undergraduates, including 33 Planning and Public Policy majors and 89 Public Health majors. At the Bloustein School’s Awards Dinner earlier in the month, Max Stember-Young, received the Miriam Barker Award, given to a Bloustein student who has high academic achievement and has demonstrated strong community service. Stember-Young, a Planning and Public Policy major with minors in Economics and Geography, served as the Vice-President of the Bloustein Public Service Association. He hopes to attend the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, to attend their masters program for urban development and design. As a career he would like to be CEO of a company involved in the planning and design process for new and revitalizing communities, and be known as the leader for creating successful communities. Anokhi Mehta was presented the Sydney and Mildred Greenberg award for a Bloustein student who has achieved superior scholarship. Mehta is a double major in Public Health and Cell Biology and Neuroscience. She will be attending UMDNJ-NJ Medical School in the fall. With her medical degree, Anokhi hopes to work in a hospital while doing international public health and medical work. She is particularly interested in Doctors Without Borders and preventive care education programs. Professor Michael Greenberg presented the awards, which he had created in honor of his mother-in-law Miriam Barker, and his parents, Sydney and Mildred Greenberg.