Speakers call on CPS and GSPM graduates to create ‘better and brighter’ future

Media Credit: Lisa Blitstein | Senior Staff Photographer

Traci Scott, the ceremony’s distinguished speaker, smiles during her speech to the graduates of the College of Professional Studies and Graduate School of Political Management ceremony Saturday night.

More than 300 students were awarded bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the commencement ceremony for the College of Professional Studies and the Graduate School of Political Management Saturday night.

Christopher J. Deering, the interim dean of CPS, said in his opening remarks that more than 600 students completed their degrees this year, but many students who were part of the online degree program were unable to attend the ceremony in person at the Smith Center.

The three speakers encouraged new graduates to use their education to affect positive change and fight through tough times.

Here are the highlights of the celebration:

1. Patience and perseverance

Traci Scott, the ceremony’s distinguished speaker who graduated from GSPM in 1996, shared lessons she learned from her military tour in Baghdad with the graduates.

She reminded the audience that although they may not be heading off to war as she had, they will face large obstacles as they leave GW and will need to work hard to achieve their goals.

“As you leave here today, you are going into your war zone,” Scott said.

Although the graduates will encounter challenges going forward, Scott told the Class of 2018 to embrace adversity and be patient when faced with a tough situation.

Lisa Blitstein | Senior Staff Photographer

A graduate of the College of Professional Studies stands and takes a selfie after the ceremony concluded Saturday night.

“You cannot jump right from point A to point Z,” she said. “That is the whole point of the process: the journey itself.”

2. ‘A better and brighter future’

Sameera Al-Nasir Kasam, who received a master’s degree in political management, highlighted the diversity of the graduating class and encouraged her classmates to bring the culture of acceptance and understanding she has found at GW to the outside world.

“While our country has been divided, our community has worked to remain united by our common commitment to create a better and brighter future for ourselves and others,” she said.

She added that the kindness, conviction, passion and compassion of her classmates made her confident they will make a positive impact on the world through their future professions.

3. Give back and keep learning

Deering, interim dean of CPS, closed the ceremony by encouraging graduates to use the skills they learned in pursuit of their degrees to improve their communities.

“It may be trite, but it is nonetheless true that it takes a village,” he said. “Make sure you’re giving back to your village.”

He also encouraged graduates to continue to pursue further education throughout their lives.

“Today’s learner is never finished,” he said. “Life brings many changes, and you’ll need to learn new things, so back into a classroom you’ll go.”

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