Dear GW Students:
This time of year, I think about graduation ceremonies. The ceremonies are full of symbolism from medieval flowing robes to a flip of tassel from right to left. It is a joyous occasion for so many. Although in the academy we do this yearly, I am reminded that this is your lifelong memory-making moment.
This year, though our commencement activities may be virtual, the celebration continues. Your achievements at GW deserve recognition and you deserve to be lauded in whatever form that takes. I look forward to joining you—virtually for now, in person when we can safely do so—to commend the hard work and dedication you put in to achieve this milestone. Thank you for contributing so much to our institution. Our GW community is better and stronger because of you.
I wanted to share a poem by Nicholas Gordon that brings me much joy, especially at Commencement:
"Happiness does not depend on weather,
Although it sometimes helps to see the sun.
Paradise remains well-tucked within,
Precisely where one's labor is one's joy.
Yearning finds its answer in compassion.
Given the uncertainties of weather,
Rain and night in league against the sun,
All must find their happiness within,
Depending on their love of life for joy,
United by the bonds of their compassion.
And all should value knowledge, regardless whether
Tentative or salient as the sun,
In which one sees the world without within,
Open window to the source of joy,
Nor more nor less than one's sustained compassion."
I wish for you a life well lived! I wish for you the ability to hold both the memories of sun-drenched moments and the thunderstorms of doubt equally. I wish for you companions throughout this amazing adventure called life. I wish for you passionate work that brings you joy. You have given much to GW, and our hope is that in equal measure we have filled you to the brim! Celebrate all that you’ve learned, all that you’ve experienced… hold fast to that which is good and true… for you.
In the end, our traditions and ceremonies bring us back to mission and identity. At graduation, it is strikingly clear how strong, as a community, we believe that teaching the whole person is paramount and gratifying. I see it time and time again in the faces of our graduates and in the talk from our faculty and staff who strive tirelessly to see them through to graduation.
I am very proud to have been your vice president for student affairs and send my highest regards as you leave us to start new adventures! I look forward to our commencement celebrations soon.
Together, we will raise high!
M.L. “Cissy” Petty, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students