What you’ve witnessed in the last four years as students in D.C. was nothing short of amazing.
Those interested in the social sciences saw the election of the first black president and the demise of Osama Bin Laden. To mark those occasions, you rallied at the White House, a treasured symbol of the democratic ideal, just blocks from GW.
Students studying science and engineering saw historic natural events like “Snowpocalypse,” a tsunami in Japan with nuclear consequences, a rare D.C. earthquake and a devastating hurricane that struck our northern shores. In the aftermath of these disasters, you dug out, pitched in, navigated social networks to raise funds and road-tripped to rebuild.
Aspiring journalists witnessed extreme examples of homegrown domestic and international terrorism, and worked to explain the chaos through tweets and other social media tools — which were barely imagined a short while ago.
Time and time again, when issues around the world erupted — including the Arab Spring and the drawing down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — emerging diplomats and policymakers engaged in advancing the concept of civil society and fostering fruitful discourse.
Those of you in business and economics saw the federal sequester, and each of you and your families focused on financing a college education during the greatest recession in generations.
As each of these monumental moments swirled around us, you persevered to achieve an incredibly important academic milestone, and today you can call yourself a college graduate. I hope you take a few moments to reflect not only on your time at GW, but also on how you have grown. I hope you continue to learn life lessons from these historic experiences, happening both here and abroad.
Hopefully, being at this unique epicenter of action will help you long into your future, particularly as you put your passions into action through all that awaits you after graduation.
And remember, no matter your major, industry or future academic or professional path, continue to apply the leadership skills gained from study groups, team membership or student organization roles. Long after you leave GW, your degree will represent your responsibility to serve as a citizen and contribute to make our planet a better place.
Thank you for choosing to earn your academic achievements at our university. You enriched the lives of so many across our campuses and the District, and we all look forward to supporting and celebrating your successes for years to come.
Peter Konwerski is the senior associate provost and dean of student affairs.