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Friday, April 8, 2011 7:06 p.m.

University selects student Commencement speaker

Elliott School graduate student Collin Stevenson will speak at Commencement in May alongside New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Anne Wernikoff/Photo Editor

Correction appended

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Katherine Rodriguez.

Graduate student Collin Stevenson will speak at the University-wide Commencement ceremony in May, marking the third year in a row that the student speaker hails from the Elliott School of International Affairs.

After a competition among eight graduating students, University Marshal Jill Kasle announced the winner in a ceremony Friday.

The students presented three-minute speeches to a panel of nine judges including Kasle, Student Involvement Coordinator Mayra Espinoza and others.

Stevenson, a master’s degree candidate in Middle Eastern Studies, was selected as the student speaker for his global perspective and his commitment to the University. A native of Sumner, Washington, Stevenson attended undergraduate and graduate programs at GW.

“I actually applied to speak at Commencement for my undergraduate degree and didn’t get it,” Stevenson said. “[It’s] a lot less pressure now, so I figured I would give it a go.”

Stevenson, who participated in Air Force ROTC through Howard University, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in May 2009. After graduation this year, he will begin intelligence training in Texas.

In his speech before the panel, Stevenson spoke about his experience as a sophomore abroad in Israel questioning Hamas operatives in high-security Israeli prisons and researching Al Qaeda inside Yemen.

Stevenson said he plans to deliver a similar speech in May, but he will work with Kasle to fine tune the technical details.

Kasle, who has served as Marshal for more than 22 years, said the decision to choose Stevenson was a quick one.

“Collin inadvertently gave two speeches,” Kasle said. Though she usually asks background questions to calm down candidates before their speeches, Kasle said, “when I asked what his plans were after graduation, he said [intelligence] and then gave his story.”

Stevenson will take the stage alongside keynote speaker and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg before an estimated 25,000 people on the National Mall May 15.

Each school of the University presented at least one candidate, except for the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the School of Nursing, the School of Public Health and Health Services and the School of Business.

This post was updated April 9, 2011 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Stevenson participated in Army ROTC as an undergraduate and would be commissioned this summer. In fact, Stevenson participated in Air Force ROTC and he will begin active duty this summer.

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