Student Speakers: High School Principal will address grads

Christine Handy Collins isn’t your typical student Commencement speaker. But she is also far from your average GW student.

Handy Collins is a high school principal in her mid-forties, but at Commencement on Sunday, she will be representing the graduated class of 2008 as the second of two student speakers selected this year.

She was named “Principal of the Year” in 2006 for her work at Gaithersburg High School in Gaithersburg, Md., and said she is well-prepared to address large audiences.

“I’m a person that enjoys speaking,” Handy Collins said. “I have spoken in front of students, at church events and at my job. But the Commencement will certainly be my largest audience yet.”

After 13 years of taking classes at GW, Handy Collins will accept a doctorate from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development. It will be the second degree for Handy Collins, who already received an education specialist degree in 2000 from GSEHD.

“It’s an honor to represent the GSEHD after attending for so long,” Handy Collins said. “I’m excited to speak not just to the grads, but their family and friends as well.”

In her speech, Handy Collins said she will compare graduates’ consciences to a table of contents.

“The table of contents tells you what’s inside, and I’m going to challenge the audience to check their table of contents,” Handy Collins said. “Are the characteristics of civility and integrity inside of you? I only have two minutes, but I want to make both of them count.”

She will still stay involved with GSEHD after graduation as an adjunct professor for the school, Handy Collins said. She will also teach a class over the summer and oversee a graduate student’s internship.

Handy Collins said members of her family – including her husband and her mother – were excited to hear the news and will be attending the ceremony on Sunday.

“My mother isn’t a city girl, so she was worried about what to wear,” said Handy Collins. “I told her she’s got to ride the Metro, so she’s got to forget cute and just be comfortable.”

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