Speakers advise CCAS graduates to welcome unexpected developments in life

Media Credit: Alexander Welling | Assistant Photo Editor

Jeremy Marsh, a student in the Class of 2019, congratulates his fellow graduates for receiving their degrees.

Students majoring in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ largest departments received their bachelor’s degrees at a ceremony in the Smith Center Saturday.

Graduates majoring in fields like journalism and mass communication, political science and economics were presented with their diplomas in the first of two CCAS ceremonies. Speakers at the celebration, including faculty, students and officials, urged members of the Class of 2019 to embrace unexpected paths in life and make a difference in the world.

Here are some highlights from the ceremony:

1. Persevering and persisting
Danny Hayes, an associate professor of political science, advised students to be patient when beginning their careers because many accomplishments take time. He told the graduating class that each and every job they take during their career will prepare them for success in the future, even if students switch jobs or change fields.

“I want to encourage you to be patient, to move through your professional and personal lives in the coming years with an understanding that you are accumulating experience, skills, knowledge and expertise that will lead you to meaningful accomplishments even if it doesn’t happen immediately,” he said.

Hayes discussed how he started his professional life as a journalist in Texas, a job that left him with many skills he later applied to his career as a political scientist.

“What I didn’t know and couldn’t know was that everything I had been learning as a reporter was building a foundation for the work that I am so privileged to do now,” Hayes said.

2. Welcoming the unexpected
Jeremy Marsh, a graduate of the Class of 2019 and one of two recipients of CCAS’ Distinguished Scholar Award, recalled how all of the classes he wanted to register for at Colonial Inauguration were filled up. He said the classes he signed up for instead – some of which he mistakenly added – led him to unexpected opportunities for professional development.

“Fast forward to today, I can say that those classes, the ones that I got because I mistyped, shaped my time at GW,” Marsh said.

Marsh applauded his classmates for completing their bachelor’s degrees and joked about three former students who did not finish their GW degrees: actor Alec Baldwin, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

“My fellow classmates, you made it all the way and you should be proud of your accomplishments,” he said.

3. Staying engaged with GW
CCAS Interim Dean Paul Wahlbeck encouraged graduates to thank the mentors who helped them along their academic journey, to take risks in their careers and to stay connected to students, faculty and alumni.

“Picture for a moment the face of someone who helped you arrive at this moment today – a classmate, a family member, a teacher – those are the faces you will never forget,” he said. “For someone, someday, you’ll be the face they’ll never forget.”

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