Ferkauf’s 2021 Commencement Celebrates Resilience, Grace and Determination

Placard announcing the 2021 Ferkauf Commencement


The faculty, students, staff, friends and family of the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology gathered online on Monday, May 24, 2021, to celebrate the awarding of master’s degrees and doctorates.

In the course of the celebration, 13 faculty members; Dr. Arlene “Lu” Steinberg, chair of the Ferkauf board of overseers and a supervisor at the school; and Michael Gill, assistant dean and program director of the M.A. in Mental Health Counseling praised the graduating class for their resilience, their grace under pressure and their remarkable self-discipline in pursuing their studies under such trying conditions.

Dr. Melanie Wadkins, associate professor and program director of the Psy.D. in School-Clinical Child Psychology, spoke for them all when she said, “I will never forget the feelings of pride, astonishment and admiration that I felt as I watched each of you face the extreme challenges of the past year with so much strength and courage…. I watched with pride and awe as many of you fulfilled your professional duties on the frontlines of the pandemic or as volunteers supporting our neighbors in crisis and grief on the emotional support helpline. You have become psychologists when the world needs you the most, and you give me hope for the future and inspire me.”

Dr. Leslie Halpern, dean of Ferkauf, and Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, also spoke in their remarks with high regard for what the students had accomplished during the trying times of the pandemic. Dr. Halpern noted, “Despite these challenges, you persevered and continued to learn to conduct research and provide clinical services to your patients, which was truly remarkable….You are exceptionally well prepared to be agents of change who through research will contribute to the advancement of scientific literature and through clinical practice will help guide your patients in their journey of self-discovery and in the alleviation of their mental health problems.”

Dr. Berman declared that “at the core of our values is a belief in your individual talents and your capacity to lead lives of enormous impact. Education is not just a window into the world, but it’s a light unto your soul….We’re so proud of your accomplishments and so happy for you today because we know that this is only the beginning of wonderful things to come.”

Several students were singled out for special notice. Sandi-Lynn Eshun (2020) and Kaitlyn Rocca (2021) received the Dr. Hirsch Silverman Award for Early Career Promise in the Field of Mental Health Counseling, and Dr. Madison Lee (2020) and Dr. Thomas Kui (2021) received the Ferkauf-Silverstein Award for Excellence in School-Clinical Child Psychology, an award named in memory of Eugene Ferkauf and Estelle Silverstein Ferkauf. Gill also announced the retirement of two faculty members: Dr. Irene Javors and Dr. Gary McClain.

Dr. Halpern ended the 45-minute ceremony with these words: “Members of the class of 2021, you are now graduates of the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. We are proud of your accomplishments. We are confident in your skills your dedication and courage. We wish you good health happiness and and the very best in your careers. Congratulations.”

On Friday, May 28, 2021, Ferkauf also held an on-campus in-person hooding ceremony from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Faculty, students, guests, and attended.


Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology Commencement 2021 at Einstein campus, Bronx, NY, Friday, May 28, 2021