Doctoral graduates receive their hoods, parting tips from the Provost

Provost Steven Lerman charged GW's doctoral graduates to never stop learning, even in areas they did not receive their degree in. Katie Causey | Photo Editor
Provost Steven Lerman charged GW’s doctoral graduates to never stop learning, even in areas they did not receive their degree in.. Katie Causey | Photo Editor

The University’s nearly 300 doctoral graduates received their hoods Thursday evening, signifying their advanced degree.

More than 200 friends and family gathered in the Smith Center to cheer on the graduates, including one women holding a sign that read “My husband is a doctor.”

Graduates walked up on stage where Provost Steven Lerman and their favorite faculty member helped in “hooding” them with a fabric strip that runs across the graduate’s neck. The hood’s color indicates which school the graduate got their degree from.

Here are the most memorable parts of the ceremony:

1. Flashing back to GW’s prominent doctoral graduates

University President Steven Knapp delivered a welcome speech to the graduates from six of GW’s schools in the form of a story about several successful GW doctoral graduates.

An audience member cheers on her graduating husband at the 2015 Doctoral Hooding Ceremony. Katie Causey | Photo Editor
An audience member cheers on her graduating husband at the 2015 Doctoral Hooding Ceremony. Katie Causey | Photo Editor

“Today your names become forever linked with those of alumni who have received their doctoral hoods in years past,” Knapp said.

He mentioned graduates like Julius Axelrod, a 1955 doctoral graduate in pharmacology, who went on to share a Nobel Prize in 1970. Knapp linked the new graduates back to GW’s alumni to highlight the common threads of dedication and passion that he said he sees in GW’s graduates.

2. Find out why you’re a doctor

Lerman encouraged the graduates to “try to find out why” it’s personally important to have a doctoral degree.

He began with a story of how he received his doctorate almost exactly 40 years ago and finished with a piece of advice for the graduates who will attend their family and friends’ commencement ceremonies in the future.

“When you have commencements, when your children have commencements, or your relatives or whatever it is, I urge you to take a moment to remember your hooding ceremony and remember the why, the why you do it,” Lerman said.

3. The dedication of the degree

Lerman said about 3 percent of America’s population go on to receive their doctoral degrees and added that the students’ achievements have brought their studies up to par with their professors.

“This academic journey took you from being a student to one our our colleagues,” Lerman said. “Today, you officially complete that transition from a student to a colleague.”

4. Tips for moving forward

Lerman continued his speech with charges to the graduates, asking them to maintain a healthy curiosity to learn about all subjects, not just the areas where the students received their degrees.

“One of the characteristics of doctoral research is its extreme depth,” he said. “Now is the opportunity to broaden that out. Don’t stop learning. Retain curiosity of those areas you know nothing about.”

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