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Three alumni join Board of Trustees
By Hannah Marr, News Editor • June 21, 2024

Professor: Learn to accept the unexpected

Professor Dennis Johnson spoke to the graduates at the College of Professional Studies and the Graduate School of Political Management. He gave his bow ties to the graduates because his wife said he had to get rid when he retired. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Professor Dennis Johnson gives a graduate one his 150 bow ties. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer
University leaders reminded graduates of the College of Professional Studies and Graduate School of Political Management to keep an open mind as they enter the workforce.

They honored several students, including military veterans, with awards for their scholarship.

Here are some highlights from the evening:

1. Plan ahead – but not too far ahead

Professor Dennis Johnson, who will retire this year and was the school’s distinguished speaker, reminded students to accept changes as they come instead of planning out every step of their careers.

Johnson quoted author Joseph Campbell, who said, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path.”

Johnson said he took advantage of unexpected opportunities when he accepted a job offer from political analyst James Carville and started his first job at GW.

He also gave graduates bow ties because he promised his wife that he would never wear one after he finished teaching.

“I’ve been wearing them for 20 years. I’ve got 150 of them,” he said. “So as a supreme sacrifice, when your time comes and you get up here, I’m going to give you one of my bow ties.”

2. Social media is important, too

Megumi Voight, the student speaker, said her GW experience differed from most because she took classes online.

“This weekend was the first time that I met many of you,” she said. Voight then talked about how social media allowed her to connect with her classmates and work on assignments.

3. The role of veterans

Graduates heard several speeches about the role of veterans within the College of Professional Studies and the Graduate School of Political Management.

Mel Williams, the associate provost for military and veteran affairs, said 23 percent of GW veterans studied in the one of the programs. He thanked College of Professional Studies Dean Ali Eskandarian for openly welcoming and assisting military students.

The University presented awards to a 9/11 first responder, a member of the 101st Airborne Division and a member of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Mark Kennedy, director of the Graduate School of Political Management, gave an award to a veteran who fought in Afghanistan.

“We are surrounded by big challenges that need to be addressed, that need the skills we teach at GSPM,” Kennedy said.

4. Education doesn’t end with a degree

Eskandarian told students to use the skills and knowledge they have gained in classes in their everyday lives.

“Let’s each engage in repeated acts of kindness for our fellow citizens, our colleagues, our friends and our family members,” he said. “I guarantee you that the rest of your contributions to humanity will fall effortlessly from this single act.”

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