A hundred years after her great-great-grandmother, Master of Social Work graduate student Sarah Lance proudly continued her family’s cherished tradition of wearing a family stole at graduation. The stole, which holds great sentimental value, has been worn by generations of her family members, symbolizing their commitment to education and the legacy of her great-great-grandmother’s dedication to finishing her degree.

The family’s tradition traces back to 1923 when Sarah’s great-great-grandmother, a widow with five children, graduated from the University of British Columbia at the age of 41. Her determination and resilience have been an ongoing source of inspiration for Sarah and her relatives.

Each family member who wears the stole adds their name, graduation year, and the college or university from which they obtained their degree. This year holds special significance as it marks the 100th anniversary of her great-great-grandmother’s graduation, making the tradition even more meaningful.

Reflecting on her time at UC Berkeley, Sarah recalled several unforgettable experiences. As a Master of Social Work student specializing in strengthening organizations and communities, Sarah had the opportunity to work in various fields, including policy advocacy with the California School-based Health Alliance and violence prevention with the UC Berkeley PATH to Care Center.Collaborating with experts in the field, Sarah worked on developing and implementing the Graduate Ambassador Program in partnership with the Restorative Justice Center. This innovative program aims to foster culture change within academic departments through restorative justice principles and sexual violence and sexual harassment (SVSH) prevention theories.

My time at Berkeley brought me deep friendships, meaningful mentorship relationships, chances to work in different fields within social work, and the opportunity to develop my own framework for social work.

Sarah Lance M.S.W '23

Looking ahead to the future, Sarah intends to continue her work in the Bay Area, seeking a position at a university or college that aligns with her passion for social justice and the prevention of interpersonal violence. While her academic journey may be complete, Sarah’s commitment to making the world a better place remains unwavering.

As for the family stole, after Sarah’s graduation, it will be passed on to her cousin Annika, who will wear it at her upcoming graduation from California Polytechnic State University. The seamless handoffs and quick coordination among family members have become a tradition in themselves, ensuring that the gown continues to be an integral part of their celebratory moments.