September 2018 – A 150-year-old tradition of signing a book coalesced with modern-day calls to action at this year’s matriculation ceremony for students entering Drew Theological School.
The students gathered at Craig Chapel to hear remarks from Dean Javier Viera, Provost Debra Liebowitz, Associate Dean Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre and Associate Professor Kenneth Ngwa before signing the book, which signifies their entrance into a “community of learners,” Johnson-DeBraufre said. Afterward, they ate dinner together with faculty and staff.
Drawing from the wisdom of scholars and activists such as Rumi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speakers encouraged the 120 newcomers to consider their graduate education as part of a larger mission as global citizens.
“Honor the step you’re making into the community,” Liebowitz said, stressing that “the need for intellectual pursuit, the need to think carefully and deliberately has never been more important.”
After a student reading from Exodus, Ngwa contemplated the role of memory and identity in diasporic movements—from Moses to today—and the “struggle to understand ‘home’ in a violent geopolitical landscape.”
“It is time for us to step up and change the equation. We must draw the circle wider,” he said. “We survive as a community. No one stands alone.”
Just before students began signing the book, Ngwa challenged them to embrace their role as religious scholars who engage with the world, saying, “Write more than your name. Write your story.”