GWSB undergraduates encouraged to embrace intellectual diversity, pursue change

Media Credit: Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Keynote speaker Henry Cisneros, the chairman of the urban residential development firm CityView, advised GWSB undergraduates to stay "intellectually curious” in their careers at the school's commencement ceremony Thursday.

About 350 students walked across a stage in the Smith Center Thursday to receive bachelor’s degrees in accountancy or business administration at the School of Business undergraduate commencement celebration.

Student speakers and officials reminded graduates of the sleepless nights they spent working toward their degrees and encouraged them to keep open minds as they enter the workforce.

Here are some highlights from the ceremony:

1. Embracing intellectual diversity

Student speaker Alexandra Black said the two words that always come up to describe GWSB students are “diverse” and “overcommitted.”

She said it wasn’t until she got involved in GWSB that she learned how important it is to be open to new ideas and learn from peers’ diverse experiences.

“The fact that each of us has spent 18 credits of non-business material, as close as economics or as far-reaching as theater and dance and biology, sets our mindsets apart from each other, but brings us together as a holistic unit going into the workforce,” Black said.

2. ‘More than students in business’

Black said students in the business school are often characterized as “overcommitted” because of the many roles and activities students take on outside of the classroom.

“It’s the hundreds of other student organizations, community service and passion for advancing the future that makes us more than students in business, but rather, leaders of our communities,” Black said.

She said it’s impossible to walk into a GWSB classroom without hearing about a new event that someone is running or how little sleep everyone got the night before.

“But all of those hours of sleep lost, shots of espresso consumed and other opportunities sacrificed have been compiled and built up with an overall mindset to accomplish something greater,” Black said.

3. Navigating a complex world

Henry Cisneros, the chairman of the urban residential development firm CityView and a former secretary of housing and urban development, served as the celebration’s keynote speaker.

Cisneros, who obtained a doctorate in public administration from GW, advised graduates to stay “intellectually curious” during their careers because of rapid technological changes in multiple fields – like the advancement of autonomous cars, gene splicing and stem cell research.

“What you know now is static information that has accumulated, that at this point will not get you forward unless you stay intellectually curious and force yourself to continue to adapt and learn,” Cisneros said. “It’s a task, it’s a job, it’s a mentality – but hopefully you’re prepared to undertake that.”

4. Inspiring change

GWSB Interim Dean Vivek Choudhury delivered the closing remarks and drew inspiration from a quote from famous activist Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Choudhury said that while not everyone will change the world, each graduate can use their own set of skills and their own passions to make a difference in their communities.

“You are the custodians of this planet,” he said. “Whatever your passion is, help us shape it.”

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