It was nearly four years ago that I arrived at GW, fresh from the wilds of Fargo, N.D. Eager for adventure and full of passion, I landed on campus and in our nation’s capital with a naive quest to save the world. I had never visited GW until I arrived here before the start of school, so who could blame my mother and I when we went out in search of J Street, thinking it would be where Pennsylvania Avenue lies? We got as far as M Street before we turned around.
As a senior in the Elliott School of International Affairs, I look back upon my experiences at GW and D.C. with awe and amazement. For the past four years, I have been among the world’s most privileged because I have been given the gift of higher education. In May, I will receive my degree from this University, and it will be an epic moment indeed – or will it?
After four years and more than $100,000 spent at GW, I found out by coincidence last week that my graduation ceremony has been changed to an earlier date.
Forget the fact that I had been planning on a May 15 graduation date for the past two years based on published information in the University Bulletins.
Forget the fact that my entire family, coming from every corner of the country and even from Europe, has locked-in, detailed plans for coming to my graduation ceremony. Down to the very minute, a long caravan of cars has been carefully planned to reach D.C. in time, plowing in from the Midwest and picking up friends along the way.
Even forget the fact, if you can, that when my name is called at graduation this year, and I stand to receive my diploma, not a single member of my family will be there to cry and clap for my accomplishments.
Pretty sad, when they are the reason that I can be here in the first place. Just remember this: I was never told of this date change for my own graduation until last week.
I never received one e-mail, letter or phone call from my own school, bothering to tell me that if I show up to graduate on Saturday, no one else from the Elliott School will be there. I was expected to know that after months of planning for May 15, I should’ve been checking the ESIA Web site every day just to make sure that my graduation date continued to remain the same. Right.
One of the greatest moments of my life – receiving my diploma – has now been tainted. I am sad. I have cried. I have not yet been able to tell my parents that after all of their love, encouragement, support and sacrifice, they will miss their own daughter’s graduation ceremony.
Oh, I am angry as hell, too. Similar to years of dealing with GW’s mismanaged and bureaucratic financial aid offices, I have been walking around campus the last few days in a confused and disillusioned daze. My own campus, and I am left without feeling that I have any voice or choice in the matter of my own graduation.
I am ranting and raving on the injustice of this action; OK, the date was changed, but at least give us a timely and informative announcement regarding it. I am outraged that after such an incredible run at GW, my final moments here will be lonely and bittersweet because I will not share it with those that I love the most, my family.
President Trachtenberg once said he runs GW like a business. I have no doubt that my tuition money has contributed to GW’s great business profits over the years. However, if this is a business decision, due to the chaos of all the schools graduating at the same time on Saturday, the University has completely disregarded business ethics and morals by letting down its customers – the class of 1999.
I have paid for this final rite of passage from GW. I was awarded it. I have earned it and had been assured of it. Now I will be paying the $100 Commencement fee to walk the final diploma line by myself, in the Smith Center on a Friday, at the same time as my family throws one banger of a roadtrip party in their efforts to reach D.C. to see me graduate.
Only now, that will be one day too late.
Shame on GW.
-The writer is a senior majoring in international affairs.