Professors urge grads to accept change

Two Columbian College of Arts and Sciences professors told graduating students to welcome change while planning for the future at separate back-to-back ceremonies for the University’s largest school.

Political science professor John Sides and associate chemistry professor Chris Cahill headlined the first and second ceremonies, respectively, assuring graduating students without post-college plans that it is not always possible to map out life.

“Far more doors are open and will remain open to you than it may seem,” Sides said. “You do have time.”

Sides also said, while reflecting upon graduation and celebrating, students must consider how to use their strengths and talents for the benefit of society.

“As you reflect, I’m going to suggest one question you might ask yourself,” he said. “How am I going to use the gifts I’ve been given?”

Cahill told graduates they only need one roadmap: a readiness for change and opportunity.

“By embracing interesting opportunities, you will attract them,” Cahill said, advising students to develop a strong work ethic based on integrity and honesty. The chemistry professor joked that memorizing the periodic table of elements might help.

One student speaker at the second ceremony, Janean Wilson, told her peers to remain confident in their decisions, as the biggest challenges they might encounter will likely be internal. Wilson graduated with a master’s degree in speech and hearing sciences.

“Think of everything you’ve done here as a stepping stone to where you want to be,” Wilson said “It’s not always someone else’s doubts, but our own. Prove yourself wrong.”

Columbian College Dean Peg Barratt reminded graduating students that, though they will no longer be attending classes, their relationship with GW has not come to a standstill.

Thomas Giannettino, who majored in political science, said the ceremony was bittersweet, adding that Sides’ speech was inspiring.

“It capsulated everything we should be thinking about as we move on from this moment,” Giannettino said. “It’s the start of the rest of my life.”

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