25 Jun

On Saturday, June 23, 2012, AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney, who serves on National Labor College’s (NLC) Board of Trustees, officially granted degrees to NLC’s Class of 2012.

Photo of the Class of 2012

Seventy-eight graduates representing 25 unions and Working America, the AFL-CIO’s Community affiliate, received Bachelor’s Degrees from the School of Labor Studies. 

Opening the ceremony was Joe Uehlein, who has distinguished himself as a leading voice in the labor movement, through his music and his work on behalf of social justice for workers everywhere.

This marks the 14th annual commencement ceremony since becoming a degree-granting institution in 1997, under AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney’s tenure.

“Today, it is vitally important that we have NLC graduates with the skills necessary to put our members back to work and to effectively respond to the strident challenges we face to our basic right to bargain collectively,” said John Sweeney, President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO.

By balancing work, education, union roles, and family responsibilities, the graduates have achieved a tremendous accomplishment.

NLC President Paula Peinovich, Ph.D., Dean of Labor Studies Daniel Katz, Ph.D., NLC faculty and staff, board members and honored friends of the college were in attendance to congratulate the graduates and their families. In an emotional moment, the graduates saluted their family and friends without whose support, the graduates may not have been able to succeed.

Renowned civil rights activist Reverend James Lawson addressed the 50 graduates and more than 200 guests in attendance.

Let this accomplishment be a road mark on the highway of your life. Let it be a continuation, but also a fresh burst in the direction of becoming not just a fragmented person, but a whole person.

The Rev. Lawson was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa and Wilma B. Liebman, the former Chairwoman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was awarded a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Several students were highlighted for their outstanding contributions to the NLC community:

  • Helen Foreman-Hines of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was awarded the prestigious President’s Award.
  • Mark King, president of the student government association and member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) was elected by his fellow graduates as class speaker and received a distinguished paper award for his senior thesis.
  • Jon Leinbaugh of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) and Joseph Walsh of the Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) were awarded the 2012 Bert and Annabel Seidman Prize for Advancing Social Policy.
  • Trenton Reich of Working America and Paul Simon of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) received distinguished paper awards for their senior theses.

Were you at commencement? What did you think?

Leave your congrats to the grads.