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Miriam Airoldi: Helping Others Find Dignity and Worth

Posted by Deborah.Walker on Monday June 29, 2015

The following are excerpts from remarks shared at the 2015 President's Pre-Commencement Brunch by new alumna, Miriam Airoldi.

In social work, "dignity and worth of the person" is one of six principles that are foundational to the field. At Nyack College I learned about my own “dignity and worth of the person," as well as of the people I will serve.

I remember the last day of my first class with Dr. Awasu. Our class was in the frenzy of finals, but Dr. Awasu sat us down, and prayed for us. She looked at each one of us as she prayed, speaking her words over us. She told us that we were warriors, and with her strong, powerful voice she told us we were going to make a difference in this world. She prayed life into us; she prayed endurance into us; she gave us courage and inspiration. She made me feel like I was worth her time, and worth her prayers.  She helped me realize that my future and my potential were worth the work and effort I was investing that challenging semester.

On my most recent Global Service-Learning trip to the Philippines, I had the honor of presenting workshops and tutoring with girls and women who had been trafficked into sex slavery. It was difficult at first for me to understand, but these women felt honored just to speak with me and the rest of our team, that they found more worth in themselves because we gave them our time, attention, and love. I thought of that day in Dr. Awasu’s class as I prayed for and with these precious women.  Assured of my own dignity and worth, I was now freed to help others realize their own.

This is just one example of how Nyack has prepared me to respect the inherent dignity and worth of each person. The English word for dignity comes from the Hebrew word “seeth.” “Seeth” can be defined in English as dignity, exaltation, or uprising. You know what I think happens when people come to know where their dignity and worth and where these come from?  I think an uprising occurs!  That is what I’ve see happen both in the social work department and throughout Nyack College.

As I look to my future, I want to be a person who helps people find their own “seeth”—their own dignity.  I guess I want to start uprisings.  I’m so grateful to Dr. Awasu and to Nyack College for helping me to do just that."

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