International affairs, business students sent off with challenges to reach higher

Senior Mark Buente and other graduating GW School of Business award recipients stand Friday during the graduation celebration in the Smith Center. Students were honored for their academic success and contributions to the school and the University. Delaney Walsh | Photo Editor

This post was written by contributing culture editor Olivia Kantor.

Speakers from both the GW School of Business and Elliott School of International Affairs charged students with setting their goals higher in graduation celebrations Friday.

At the business school, which packed by undergraduates and MBA students into the Smith Center, keynote speaker and GW alumnus Steve Ross encouraged students continually strive to challenge themselves.

“We must always set goals, if not we will just spin our wheels our entire lives. While you should enjoy every day, including today, never lose sight of the future,” he said. “Unless you feel the sense of getting that Holy Grail, don’t ever fall into complacency.”

Brian Landau, winner of the Master of Business Administration Leadership Award, exemplifies Ross’ message. After several successful years as a director of digital sales, Landau decided he wanted an extra edge, deciding to return to school to get an MBA and GW was his first choice.

 “Brian wanted to just add to his business skill set, he wanted the credentials, he knew this wasn’t going to be the easiest classes in terms of his own skill set but he was up for the challenge,” Arielle, Landau’s wife, explained.

Marjorie Thomas earned her MBA this year after finishing her undergraduate education 20 years ago. Her experience at the business school has been part of a lifetime of continually working to improve herself and learn, she said.

“[GW] challenged me to think on a more global level and to be cognizant of how I comport myself as a business person, and also to act in a socially and ethically responsible way,” Thomas said.

For Thomas, a mother of three, earning her MBA is deeply tied to her relationship to her family and her ongoing sacrifices for her children. “I want my kids to be proud of their mom,” she said.

At the Elliott School celebration in the Smith Center, Maurice “Mickey” East, dean of the school from 1988 to 1994,  discussed the dramatic transformation of the GW an academic outsider to a leader in international affairs and political science.

He also described an increasingly globalized world, with that phenomenon apparent Friday.

Tianyue Wu, an international student from China, majoring in global communications, decided four years ago to pursue her love for international affairs on the other side of the world. Wu’s family flew all the way from China to see her walk across the stage in the Smith Center.

“It feels so good to graduate, it’s really a new beginning,” said Wu.


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