Students bubbled with excitement as they filed into the Charles E. Smith Center on May 19, 2018, to be formally recognized for their hard work and perseverance as 2018 graduates of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in the College of Professional Studies (CPS) and the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM). Inspirational speakers and special award presentations contributed to the festivities, ending in a special charge to the graduates.
The happiness of the new graduates was contagious as the audience of loved ones cheered them on. The upbeat music filled the large auditorium as the faculty, administration and distinguished guests followed the students into the venue led by Dr. Christopher J. Deering, interim dean of CPS and Dr. Lara Brown, director of GSPM.
The ceremony included presentation of special awards, remarks by a distinguished speaker and alumna, Traci Scott, Class of 1996, and a student address by Sameera Al-Nasir Kassam, a political management graduate.
Once all were seated the ceremony began with a welcome from Dr. Deering (Video: 17:49). Dean Deering introduced the Distinguished Speaker, Traci Scott, a 1996 graduate of the master’s in political management program. Scott has relocated to the National Capital Region to begin her new position as the Director of Communications for the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the Pentagon. She served as congressional activities coordinator and political advisor to 16 Army generals in the past nine years, as a U.S. Army civilian.
She titled her speech (Video: 22:17-40:38), “Take Off your Hoop Earrings Before You Put on Your Gas Mask,” and shared her top lessons for the graduates, inspired from her time in Iraq and other military posts. She compared the post-graduation time to students entering a war zone and needing to be prepared.
Her top five lessons she learned outside of the classroom:
- Life is a process. (Learn the process, follow the process)
- Be truthful. Be truthful, if you don’t know the answer say so and do what you can to find out the requested information.
- Know your audience and speak to them. Sometimes you have to know your audience and just take control of the situation before it becomes a problem (All about positioning).
- Be resourceful and be prepared. Always be prepared and be resourceful no matter where you are and what situation you are in. Get the job done.
- When you are going through “hell,” keep going. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going, no matter what. And remember to take off your hoop earrings before putting on your gas mask.
Presentation of Awards
- Mary Eileen Paradis (Police and Security Studies), Dr. Richard F. Southby Police Science Prize (Video: 41:29);
- Candace Arline Wheeler (Political Management), Founding Dean Arterton Award (44:54);
- Fjolle Caka (Sustainable Urban Planning), The George Washington University Alumni Association Prize (Video:47:27);
- Raymond Rif (Legislative Affairs), The George Washington University Alumni Association Prize (Video: 51:37);
- Dr. Joseph P. Fisher (Integrated Information Science and Technology), College of Professional Studies Faculty Excellence Award (Video: 53:35);
- Veronika Kruglashova (Advocacy in the Global Environment), Mark and Debbie Kennedy Frontiers of Freedom Award (Video:55:20).
The ceremony included the official Presentation of the Graduates, with each student’s name being read as they crossed the stage. While more than 325 graduates attended the annual Commencement ceremony, this was only about half of the 600 students who graduated during the fall, spring and summer semesters. Additionally, the ceremony was livestreamed to many more online.
Following the presentation of graduates, Dean Deering (Video:1:48:20). concluded the ceremony by congratulating the graduates and thanking the speakers, the faculty, and the event staff. He asked the graduates to consider the true meaning of success and issued a five-part Charge to the Graduates:
- Apply your knowledge (internal and external efficacy).
- Serve your community (pay it forward, do good, find a way to give back).
- Engage in life-long learning. Life brings challenges and change; today’s learner is never finished.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. This advice is often given by artists, entrepreneurs, inventors and scientists. Listen to Yoda.
- Embrace and practice civility.
He ended the Charge by saying “Do your best to uphold those memorable values and the charge I have offered you, I have no doubt you will make us all very proud. Congratulations, raise high and let’s celebrate.”
The ceremony ended joyously with the singing of the Alma Mater and a briskly paced recessional.