ETS's Chief Diversity Officer Offers Penn State Commencement Address

May 14, 2013, 13:56 ET from Educational Testing Service

PRINCETON, N.J., May 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Jhan Doughty Berry, Chief Diversity Officer at Educational Testing Service (ETS), addressed the 2013 graduating class of the College of Education at Penn State University's main campus during commencement ceremonies May 5, 2013.  Berry is a two time alumna of Penn State's College of Education. 

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As Chief Diversity Officer at ETS, Berry is responsible for the corporate-wide strategic diversity initiatives. Formerly, she was the senior director for institutional diversity and adjunct assistant professor of educational psychology and psychology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where her research and scholarship was in the area of working with adults and children with severe mental health and/or physical disabilities, pediatric health care, intervention-based research, ethical issues in research and multicultural issues in education. She reflected on her career and addressed the challenges and realities facing students in every department of the College of Education who are entering the workplace. 

"As a graduate of the College of Education here at Penn State, you are entering the workforce or furthering your studies at an amazing time in history," Berry said. "As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated recently, we need you to be there asking the tough questions about what we are doing in education. And I would add that as a graduate of our College, I know that YOU will lead the way."

Addressing those in Elementary and Kindergarten Education, Childhood and Early Adolescent Education, she noted they will be entering an environment where over 55 million children are educated each day in public schools and about 10% of them in private schools. "Although there are about 3 million teachers in the United States, you will lead us with innovative approaches to teaching and learning by utilizing computer-based approaches for areas such as classroom management to assessing higher level concepts in math & science. You will use educational games to teach reading comprehension and you will teach students art and music using an iPad or SmartBoard."

"Your 1st grade students will learn the beauty of each child being unique in his/her own way through your lessons on anti-bullying, embracing all cultures and in your lesson planning that includes activities for all children in your classroom regardless of their level of ability," she added. 

"You will also be there to help us address some of the complex academic challenges we are facing today," Berry continued.  "The academic achievement gap, particularly among younger children, still exists.  Differences remain among children of color, middle school boys and those living in some underserved areas in the country in critical learning areas in math and reading." 

For those earning degrees in Secondary Education, Berry noted they will serve as the critical foundation for students. "You will be there to provide the critical educational content needed to prepare students for the global and competitive higher education learning experience that you now all know too well," she said. "You will help your students navigate these complex personal and academic times in their lives as they develop not only in their learning as young people, but also in their personal lives. You will employ innovative approaches to your teaching, help your students with disabilities transition from school to work, and work closely with parents and families on the education of their students. 

Those with special education degrees will be able to work with the whole child—not just his/her IEP qualifying diagnosis, she explained. "You will help us navigate the new DSM-5 and its role in classifying our children, particularly those on the Autism Spectrum and other disabilities that are being re-defined. You will come up with innovative ways to teach math, science and social skills and you will make sure that next to the child's parents—you are his or her best advocate."

Graduates with Workforce Education and Development degrees are entering an era when educational, corporate and public/not-for profit settings are turning to them to help them navigate this global learning landscape. "You will help provide us with the strategic thinking we need from everything from how to boost employee morale to assessing the true learning needs of organizations that are expanding in areas such as growth and innovation," Berry said.

Students schooled in Rehabilitation and Human Services will lead the way in providing the training and expertise in working with children, adolescents and adults across their life spans, she said. "You will hold a highly valued and unique place at the table because you will be there to provide insight into your client's social, psychological, physical, mental, and vocational and family background in a way that no other professional can."

Berry told students graduating with a degree in World Languages Education that they will be working in educational, corporate and service agencies to open communication for persons of all backgrounds. You know the value of ensuring that everyone is able to gain the fullest level of participation in their lives by serving as a translator, an interpreter or other valued professional in a community-based organization or as a teacher of English as a second language. As someone who works at a company whose brands are TOFEL and TOEIC, we know all too well the high value of not just raising the need for English-language proficiency, but also the value of world languages as well," she said.

Finally Berry told students in the Education and Public Policy area that their expertise will help to inform and shape the regional, state and national discourse that we are having on important issues such as everything from how to implement the Obama Pre-Kindergarten Plan to the Common Core Standards. "You will be able to harness all that you have learned from the leading faculty here on improving educational curriculum."

"It is an amazing time in education and I am so excited that as members of the Class of 2013 you will be there leading the way. My hope for you is that you thank your parents and family members for in some cases taking out second mortgages, loans and cashing in 401Ks to pay for your tuition that allowed you to complete this journey; that you lead your lives with both passion and purpose; recognize that life does not rhyme-it is not poetry-so everything for you will not happen as perfectly or fluidly as you would like, but it will happen at the time that is right for you.  And finally, continue to lift up others as you climb your personal and professional ladder of success as the journey means nothing if you are not helping others to get there with you."

About ETS
At ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded as a nonprofit in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® test and The Praxis Series™ assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide.

SOURCE Educational Testing Service