Sunday’s Commencement ceremony on the Ellipse, with the White House as a backdrop, will add a touch of grandeur to graduation memories. But individual school ceremonies held throughout Commencement weekend offer a hint of intimacy.
The Columbian School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Elliott School of International Affairs, and School of Business and Public Management, among others, will conduct individual graduation ceremonies in the Smith Center all day Saturday and on Sunday morning.
“I think (the individual ceremonies) are a good way of handling the impersonality of a large GW Commencement,” said Forrest Maltzman, a political science professor and faculty speaker at the CSAS ceremony.
“The biggest difference is the personalization,” said Pam Allen, director of Elliott School student services. “This is the only time students receive personal recognition.”
At the school ceremonies, graduates are recognized individually – their names are announced and they accept their diploma cases. The actual diplomas are distributed on Commencement day.
The individual schools encourage ceremony speakers to relay personal experiences that might offer insight into the graduates’ years at GW and beyond.
Kuyomars “Q” Golparvar, 1997-98 Student Association president, will deliver the first-ever student speech at the ESIA ceremony.
“It is important to get a student perspective because (the graduates) have gone through the same curriculum,” Golparvar said. “They are people you can relate to.”
Maltzman said a well-known speaker like former Sen. Bob Dole, who will speak on the Ellipse, can effectively speak about the future. But a faculty member’s speech centers on GW and permits reflection about experiences and students on campus.
“I have no doubt I know the students better than Bob Dole,” Maltzman said.
Mark Hughes III, who has earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at GW, will address the graduates of SEAS.
“It is important to know and listen to (engineers in the field) . because it is what they do day-to-day that is important,” Hughes said.
Hughes said his experience at his first graduation in 1968 was significantly different from his second in 1977.
He said he enjoyed the SEAS graduation in the Marvin Center theater because the quaint setting allowed him to share the important moment with family and friends.