The former president and CEO of USA Weekend encouraged graduate students in the School of Business to take time to volunteer on the board of a nonprofit as a way to give back to the community during the graduate school’s ceremony Friday evening.
“In every job, in every business, we can find ways to connect in positive ways with the communities we serve,” said Marcia Bullard, who worked for 35 years at USA Weekend, a weekly magazine read by more than 44 million people.
Bullard said businesses are increasingly forming partnerships with nonprofits, adding that graduates can be leaders whether they work at large companies or small ones.
Bullard cited experts who have called the millennial generation “off the charts” with its sense of social responsibility.
“I urge you to carry that effort with you and to change American business for the better,” Bullard said. “Help your workplace and be a good citizen to the community.”
Student speaker David Kirkland spoke about the importance of maintaining school pride even while transitioning out of GW, and tied it to service as well.
“The challenge for us as newly minted graduates is to embrace the responsibilities and duties that come with being part of this community,” Kirkland said.
Thunder rumbled throughout the Smith Center during the ceremony, at one point cracking loudly during the “bombs bursting in air” portion of the National Anthem, triggering laughter among graduates and audience members.
Friday’s graduation ceremony was also the last one for School of Business Dean Susan Phillips, who will be stepping down in June.
“This is a bittersweet moment for me,” Phillips said. “For the past 12 years it has been, indeed, an honor to lead this school.”
Phillips told the graduates Commencement must not mark the end of their educational journey.
“Throughout your careers you will be expected to improve upon your knowledge and capabilities,” Phillips said. “In our competitive global environment we must maintain an appetite for lifelong learning.”
Graduating student Latoya Lewis said she was ready to start celebrating as soon as she received her diploma.
“It’s unbelievable!” Lewis said after the ceremony. “I think after we got our diplomas they should have let us go,” she joked about the length of the ceremony, before adding, “The dean’s close was nice.”
Graduate Chang Liu said he enjoyed the ceremony, which was a different experience from the undergraduate one he had in his home country.
“It’s very different from China, this impressed me a lot,” Liu said. “Especially calling the names, they didn’t do that at my school.”