At the School of Business master’s and doctoral programs celebration in the Smith Center Friday, students, faculty, family and friends gathered to watch as graduate students were recognized for their achievements.
The graduates heard words of advice from speakers, who stressed the importance of cherishing accomplishments, like the ceremony, and never accepting failure.
1. Always in a hurry
Keynote speaker Baroness Joanna Shields, the United Kingdom Minister for Internet Safety and Security who earned her MBA from GW in 1987, said that she did not attend her GW graduation.
“Coming back to GW has been surprisingly emotional in terms of a homecoming,” Shields said. “I have never been one to look back or take time to appreciate achievements, in fact, I will confess to you here today that I didn’t attend my own graduation ceremony.”
Shields said she was in “too much of a hurry” to attend the ceremony. She said being in a hurry has facilitated her unrelenting drive and quick responses, but has often made her miss out.
“Over time I have realized the importance of appreciating a moment like this,” Shields said. “It gives you time to reflect and thank those that have supported you and contemplate the role you will play in the future.”
2. Breaking down walls
Shields said that when she graduated from GW in 1987 the world was a different place. She said it was just before President Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin wall.
“Years later we are building new walls, isolating ourselves and keeping people out,” Shields said. “There are many factors driving this rhetoric.”
Shields said that one of those walls is the Internet, because while there are millions of people active online and communication is expanding, it can also be isolating. She said there is no denying that intolerance and online social discourse is redefining what is important.
“Change is the new normal. We need to embrace it by being certain in our own actions,” Shields said. “At a time when we are harnessing the power of data and making machines more intelligent to serve us better, I think it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that human intelligence, empathy and compassion are always factored into the equation.”
3. ‘Failure is not an option”
Student speaker Khadijah Nimrod, who graduated with a master’s in tourism administration, drew inspiration from a quote by Beverly Kearney. “My hero is my history and my history is a legacy of people who have triumphed over tragedy who have succeeded in spite of the oppression how can I fail because they have taught me failure is not an option,” Nimrod quoted Kearney.
Nimrod said the future depends on what the graduates do today, and one day the graduates before her will be “the heroes guiding others to success.”
4. One last assignment
Linda Livingstone, the dean of the business school, said this week’s graduation marks an important milestone in the graduates’ lives and that faculty and staff in the school look forward to what the graduates accomplish.
“As you leave here and carry with you the legacy of George Washington with a degree granted by the authority of Congress that is truly an only at GW experience,” Livingstone said. “Onward and upward.”
Vivek Chourdhury, the associate dean of graduate programs, concluded the ceremony with “one last assignment,” asking everyone in the audience to rise and make as much noise as possible.
“Now I would like all of you to stand as a School of Business and I would like all of our guests, family and friends to make as much noise as possible to let all of Foggy Bottom and all of the world know that we are here,” Chourdhury said.
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