Here’s what to expect from Commencement 2022 on the National Mall

Media Credit: Krishna Rajpara | Assistant Photo Editor

This spring’s Commencement will follow the same COVID-19 safety protocols as the in-person ceremony last fall.

Updated: May 10, 2022 at 6:35 p.m.

For the first time in three years, GW will host its traditional spring Commencement on the National Mall Sunday.

University spokesperson Tim Pierce said the event will draw about 25,000 attendees who will hear remarks from Commencement speaker Elana Meyers Taylor, an alumna and five-time Olympic medalist, before capping off their GW careers. The event will kick off at 10 a.m., marking the first in-person spring Commencement since the COVID-19 pandemic moved commencement ceremonies online for two years until the classes of 2020 and 2021 returned to the National Mall for a joint Commencement in October.

“We are thrilled to bring together the Class of 2022 for Commencement on the National Mall for a truly Only at GW moment,” Pierce said in an email. “With approximately 25,000 people expected to attend, it will be a great day celebrating with the graduates and their family and friends.”

Additional commencement celebrations for the University’s schools, multicultural groups and ROTC cadets will start Thursday and continue until Monday. You can find the full schedule of celebrations on GW’s Commencement website, alongside information on registration, COVID-19 safety protocols and accessibility.

This spring’s Commencement will follow the same COVID-19 safety protocols as the in-person ceremony last fall. GW registrants must provide a copy of full vaccination proof for all their guests over the age of 5 who must have received their last dose more than two weeks in advance. All guests, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask for all indoor events unless they are eating or drinking.

Graduating students receive individual recognition during celebrations specific to each college or school, where they will walk across a stage as school administrators announce their names. Graduating students and their guests will also hear from speakers like Dr. April Kapu, the president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, who will address the School of Nursing, and Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, D-N.Y., who will speak to the Elliott School of International Affairs.

Following a tradition that started more than a decade ago, the Multicultural Student Services Center will hold its signature Graduation Celebration in Lisner Auditorium at 10 a.m. Thursday. Everyone is invited to this celebration which honors graduating seniors who identify with the Black, Asian and Pacific Islander, South Asian, Latinx, Native American, religious and faith and LGBTQIA+ communities. This event features student guest speakers and award winners as well as a parent and family reception.

Alumna and Commencement speaker Elana Meyers Taylor received a bachelor’s degree in exercise science in 2006, a master’s degree in sports management in 2011 and an honorary doctorate in public service in 2018 after she was inducted into the GW Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014. During her bobsled career, Meyers Taylor made history as the most decorated Black athlete ever to compete in the Winter Olympics, earning a total of five medals. She also advocates for equality of opportunity for girls through her work on the Women’s Sports Foundation.

The University selected Vishva Bhatt, a first-generation American and international affairs major, as the Commencement student speaker. During her time at GW, she has served as the head delegate of the Model United Nations team and has directed College Next Door, a nonprofit organization that pairs GW mentors with D.C. high school students to serve as a support system.

“The big message that I want to leave students with and the community at large with is that we all want to make a difference in the world, and we all can and will make a difference in the world, but it’s okay if that difference is only in one little corner or if you only help one person or if you only do one positive thing, because that will cause a ripple effect,” Bhatt said.

Journalists and alumni Dana Bash and Chuck Todd will receive honorary degrees at Commencement. Bash, who received a bachelor’s degree from GW in 1993, serves as CNN’s chief political correspondent and co-anchors Sunday morning talk show “State of the Union.” Todd, who attended GW between 1990 and 1994, is the political director of NBC News and moderates NBC’s Sunday morning talk show “Meet the Press.”

Commencement check-in will take place on the first floor of the Science and Engineering Hall, where GW registrants can print out credentials for themselves and their registered guests to gain access to events. The check-in schedule is available on the Commencement week check-in website.

A reserved seating area will be available for attendees with limited mobility who may be dropped off and picked up on Jefferson Drive between 7th and 12th Streets. Golf carts, controlled by Commencement staff, can transport guests from the drop-off area to seating.

The celebration will be livestreamed for everyone to enjoy on the University’s Commencement website on the day of the event. The livestream will also be posted on the website as a video after the ceremony for students and their families to watch or rewatch on their own time.

This post was updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported Commencement would be held Saturday. It will be held Sunday. We regret this error.

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