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PAUL closes in Western Market
By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Seniors to speak at grad. ceremonies

Six graduating seniors will speak at the University’s individual school graduation ceremonies this week.

While some schools hold open auditions and others nominate specific students, each of the five schools has separate eligibility requirements.

The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Elliott School of International Affairs and School of Business will also have graduate students speak at their celebrations, which are scheduled for Friday and Saturday (See schedule, p. 7).

CCAS solicits faculty nominations for students who have demonstrated “outstanding scholarship,” said Michael King, the school’s marshal, who added that he expects prospective candidates to have grade point averages above 3.9. This year, two seniors – Homa Khorrami and Melissa Marotta – will speak at the CCAS ceremony.

King said the “intimacy” and “personal connectivity” between the school and student distinguishes the school graduation celebration from Sunday’s Commencement ceremony on the Ellipse.

“The Commencement on Sunday is a wonderful event, bringing all of the schools together, but it doesn’t have that special personal touch,” King said.

ESIA invites students with a 3.4 GPA and above to audition for the speech. Officials picked Thomas Krepp from a field of six candidates.

The School of Business selects a speaker whose academic work and contributions to the school have been reviewed by a faculty committee. Alyssa Spitulnik will deliver this year’s address.

The School of Public Health and Human Services allowed its graduating seniors to nominate the school speaker, Evan Johnson.

In past years, the leaders of the two major public health student organizations, the Public Health Student Association and Health Services Management and Policy Student Association, spoke at the ceremonies.

These students will not give speeches this weekend because the school wanted to “put more emphasis on all of the students, not just the student leaders,” said SPHHS student advisor Mallory Boyd.

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences holds open auditions in which all graduating seniors are eligible to participate. Anita Patel, the only student who attended the audition, will speak at the SEAS ceremony.

“The speech is basically trying to articulate what the undergraduate experience is like – what it has meant to them,” said SEAS Associate Dean for Student Affairs David Grier.

Evan Johnson, SPHHS

A coxswain for the men’s varsity crew team, Evan Johnson said he will miss “watching the sunrise over the monuments” during morning practices. He said his involvement with the team was the most “amazing” experience of his college career.

“Just seeing the program progress to where it is now has been great,” Johnson said.

Johnson, an exercise science major who hopes to become a teacher in the field, will thank SPHHS faculty members for being “so personal” with each of their students in his speech.

Homa Khorrami, CCAS

Homa Khorrami’s research project last summer, “The Chemistry of Ceramic Glazes,” illustrates the diverse interests she has pursued during her undergraduate career.

A chemistry major with minors in fine arts and art history, Khorrami said she has enjoyed ceramics and playing the violin in addition to holding leadership roles in the American Medical Student Association and Afghan Student Organization.

Khorammi will attend GW Medical School in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in public health.

As of last week, she said had no plans for her speech.

“I’ve been told to keep it short,” Khorammi said, “(and) perhaps make it controversial and to make it memorable.”

Thomas Krepp, ESIA

Thomas Krepp cited his experiences as a community facilitator in Thurston Hall, a residence hall housing more than 1,000 freshman, as one of his most significant college experiences.

“It was interesting,” Krepp said with a quiet laugh.

He added that he would “definitely do it again” if given the chance because he “learned how to deal with obstacles.”

Krepp, an international affairs and history double major, said he would like to earn a master’s degree in international security.

He said he believes his internships at the Association of the United States Army and the Center for Strategic International Studies have given him valuable experience in the field of diplomacy.

“The Elliott School has given me a lot,” Krepp said. “I just want to leave them with a good impression.”

Melissa Marotta, CCAS

Every two weeks, Melissa Marotta commutes to New York City to spend four days working at a forensic behavioral science consultation practice.

“It’s very interesting. I feel that I have been forced into the real world a little earlier than expected,” Marotta said. “It definitely keeps things exciting.”

Marotta, a psychology major, has also volunteered at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a facility for the mentally ill in Southwest D.C. She described the experience of observing a government-run medical facility as “eye-opening.”

“They are really poorly funded,” Marotta said. “It was inspiring for me, as an aspiring medical professional, to see the obstacles they overcome.”

Marotta will participate in a pre-medical program at the City College of New York next year.

Anita Patel, SEAS

Anita Patel will graduate Sunday with a systems engineering degree, but she is not leaving GW just yet.

Patel is part of a seven-year integrated engineering and law program and hopes to be a property and patent lawyer.

“I want to be both an engineer and a lawyer,” Patel said.

Patel said she values the small size of SEAS that has allowed the faculty and students to become part of her “family.”

“It’s a small school in a big city, and we’ve formed a really great community,” Patel said. “I wanted a chance to share what makes us different from other people. Engineers have their own little quirks, but in the end it helps make us a distinct community.”

Alyssa Spitulnik, SB

Alyssa Spitulnik had her speech prepared but recently decided to rewrite it due to a significant change in her life. She learned last week that her grandmother would soon pass away.

“My plans changed yesterday. It will now be about some things I learned from her that are applicable to all graduates,” Spitulnik said.

Spitulnik, a business major with concentrations in marketing and small business management, said one of her proudest achievements at GW was helping raise $55,000 for the American Cancer Society. She and other members of Colleges Against Cancer, a student organization she founded, raised the money through participating in the ACS Relay for Life.

Speaker Requirements

CCAS: Students must have shown “outstanding scholarship” and grade point averages above a 3.9

ESIA: Students need at least a 3.4 GPA

School of Business: No GPA requirement, but student’s work must be reviewed by faculty committee

SEAS: No GPA requirement; all seniors are invited to audition

SPHHS: No GPA requirements; seniors are allowed to nominate speaker

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