As camera flashes flickered over a sea of tassels, two Columbian College of Arts and Science professors urged graduates to cast their fears aside and forge fresh paths to success.
Associate professor of geography David Rain and director of GW's art therapy program Heidi Bardot encouraged graduates to chart new courses and serve as examples for generations to come, even if it means deviating from others' expectations of them.
“Society and the marketplace want you to believe that the market for success is a house in the ‘burbs and a cubicle. Resist this,” Rain said at the first of two ceremonies for the University’s largest school. “Model a different way of thinking.”
Dreams that are terrifying are the dreams that are most worth pursuing, Bardot told graduates at the college’s second graduation ceremony.
“Do the one thing that you cannot possibly do, but know that you should,” she said, emphasizing that the easiest path is rarely the most fulfilling course of action.
“Feed your soul, and fate will put you in the right place at the right time to find your dream…and hopefully, a realistic way to pay back your student loans,” she added, prompting laughter and applause from the audience.
Students at the second Columbian College ceremony heard from museum studies master’s degree recipient Sarah Stierch, who flunked out of college as an undergraduate and made a living as a make-up artist and club D.J.
Without those experiences, she said, she would not be earning her degree.
“I am in a future that I never thought I’d have,” she said. “I did this by embracing who I am. I took the boldness and rebelliousness of my youth and molded it into my future.”
Columbian College Dean Peg Barratt delivered the final messages to graduates, commending them on their academic journey and quelling concerns of a precarious job market.
“Employers today want employees who can read and write, who can be creative and analytical, who can assemble facts to outline a coherent picture of the present and use that as a foundation for achieving goals,” Barratt, who will step down as dean next June, said. “That’s what [the Columbian College does]. Judging by the caliber of our graduates here today, we do that very well."
This article was updated May 21, 2012 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly referred to the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences as the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences in the photo caption. We regret this error.