The 249th Anniversary Rutgers Commencement was held on Sunday, May 17, and featured the popular scientist and show host, Bill Nye. He received a Doctor of Science degree from the University. The Convocation for Rutgers School of Social Work, now celebrating its 61st year, was held on May 18 with convocation speaker Ashley Blazer Biden.
This year there were 148 graduates receiving a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree with a social work major, 494 receiving a MSW degree (with an additional 61 graduating in October and 19 in January), four graduates receiving a Ph.D. degree, and 20 graduates receiving a DSW degree.
“Rutgers School of Social Work is proud to launch a class of highly effective, compassionate and well prepared graduates. This diverse group of talented individuals will work to make a difference in our ever changing world and make their mark on many social important issues. These professionals exemplify the best in social work practices, and we are tremendously proud of everything they have already accomplished, and all that is to come,” says Cathryn Potter, dean of the School of Social Work.
Biden is currently the Executive Director of the Delaware Center for Justice, Inc., a non-profit agency that provides an extensive range of programs and services, public education, research and advocacy for youth and adults impacted by the criminal justice system, including offenders, victims, and at-risk youth. Prior to becoming the Executive Director in November 2014, Biden was the associate executive director of DCJ for two years; overseeing all direct service programs. She spent five years as an Education & Career Development Liaison for the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Families and worked at West End Neighborhood House in Wilmington, Delaware as an employment and education case manager for youth aging out of foster care. After graduation from college, Biden spent five years working as clinical support staff for Northwestern Human Services: Children’s Reach Mental Health Clinic in Philadelphia. She graduated from Tulane University with a BA in Cultural Anthropology and received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, receiving the John Hope Franklin Combating American Racism Award from the Black Men at Penn. She currently serves on the Board at the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban League and is a former board member and current supporter of the YWCA of Delaware. Biden lives in Philadelphia with her husband Howard, an otolaryngologist and plastic surgeon and an undergraduate of Rutgers University. Biden is the daughter of Jill Jacobs Biden and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
In her convocation speech, Biden said she was truly grateful for the opportunity to speak with the graduates, and that becoming a social worker was her proudest accomplishment.
“We are a very rare and special breed of individuals. We possess a sacred sense of empathy for humanity. We believe in service, social justice and the importance of human relationships. . . Like you, the social work gene is imprinted in my DNA,” said Biden.