Undergraduates received their diplomas at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ second ceremony Saturday surrounded by friends and family in the Smith Center.
Speakers told graduates to value the unexpected and jump into their futures without fear or reservations. They also encouraged the graduates to remain confident and work hard to become the next generation of innovators.
Here’s what the speakers had to say:
1. Expect the unexpected
Before telling the audience about preparing for unexpected results, Jacqueline Dyer, the ceremony’s student speaker, opened her speech with a joke about her four years at GW.
“It’s been crazy – or so I’ve heard – I was actually in the library or lab the whole time,” Dyer said.
Dyer, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, said she got involved in doing research “by accident.” Through lab research and ending with results that weren’t what she expected, Dyer said she learned to find value in all results.
“I figured out that every result has value and meaning, even if it isn’t the exact meaning I was looking for,” Dyer said.
Dyer added that even though graduates’ futures may be uncertain, they should embrace the unknown.
“I think life after GW will be filled with unexpected results, obstacles and challenges,” Dyer said. “The best thing to do is just jump in, work as hard as possible and not let anything hold you back.”
2. A Swiss Army Knife
Antonio Lopez, an associate professor of English, said a degree from CCAS is like “a Swiss Army Knife” because it has various tools that can open up different opportunities for graduates.
Lopez also encouraged graduates to welcome “unexpected strangers” and “offer hospitality” to those they encounter, and added that having confidence is the key to success.
“Your unreasonable self-confidence is good,” Lopez said.
3. Relating to the graduates
Ben Vinson, the dean of CCAS, offered final words, marking his last commencement speech before he leaves GW to serve as the provost and executive vice president at Case Western University.
“Like you, I am moving on to a new chapter in life, and like you, I am grappling with a mixture of emotions,” Vinson said.
Vinson said that while commencement marks the end of one journey, life is just beginning for the graduates.
“I feel confident that you are ready for your tomorrow,” Vinson said.
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