Friends, Colonials, countrymen, welcome to Commencement 2002. After the blood, toil and tears of four years (four-and-a-half to five for some of us) at GW, it seems our moment in the limelight has finally come. If you’re excessively bored by the various speakers of the weekend, you are hereby commanded, not just urged, to read on. Valuable reflections from our roughly $100,000 worth of happy-fun learning time are on the way.
For friends and family who made the long, arduous journey through the wiles of airport security checkpoints, congested highways and train stations to spend time with a cherished grad, sorry if you have to watch the ceremony on TV or hear it recapped in excruciating detail at your champagne brunch afterwards. Surprisingly, extra tickets are selling for hundreds of dollars on GWeb’s new free market-style classified section, effectively and unwittingly pricing many Commencement guests out of the market.
With any luck from Mother Nature, this weekend finds you basking on the Ellipse taking in a cloudless blue sky. If not, at least we all get to see the MCI Center, the place where Michael Jordan made his storied comeback with the Washington Wizards and Mike Tyson nearly made his ear-chomping return.
The class of 2002 has doubtlessly seen its share of pomp and circumstance gone awry. After all, this is Washington. Whether it was that little presidential tryst with an intern leading to the President of the United States being mired in a nauseating display of partisan acrimony or Student Association political scandals having a strange resemblance to real world political scandals, Washington certainly attracts its share of crises and controversies.
Speaking of interns, there was also the “Where in the World is Chandra Show?” that tragically found no resolution.
The 2000 presidential election debacle was intriguing, too. Few will forget what it was like to go to school amid Democrats’ and Republicans’ squabble for power. We, as students here, all suddenly became experts on the electoral system, especially during those Sunday telephone (oops, I mean cell phone) conversations with mom and dad and anyone else wanting to ask us who would be the next president.
And everyone has been inundated with Sept. 11 reflections and pearls of wisdom. But there is something more to be said about that sad day. We rode out some scary times in Washington to make it to this day, our day. Sadly, the threat of harm being brought on this city and country is still out there and could strike at any time. And yet we made it here despite the anthrax and hijacking attacks and the specter of more attacks. Take that, terrorism!
That said, moms and dads may be surprised, pleasantly or unpleasantly, by the massive changes to campus over the past four years. Rest assured, tuition funds have been well spent on Jamba Juice and Starbucks for all to enjoy. There’s also CNN’s “Crossfire” at the new School of Media and Public Affairs building. Now, parents can tune in to watch junior in the live studio audience questioning some talking heads.
All those who made sacrifices to make our college experience possible are to be commended. Let’s make use of what we’ve been given by getting out there, having some fun, making some money and taking some risks. Great friends have been made, yet sadly we must go our separate ways. If we leave here with nothing else, never forget one thing- life is fleeting.
Despite the uncertainties and newfound perils of tomorrow, there is little doubt we have all been well prepared for our entrance into the world. Let confidence be our strength and experience be our guide as we navigate the wiles of the world.
-The writer, a senior majoring in business economics and public policy, is a former Hatchet opinions editor.