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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

CPS graduates urged to remain involved in the college as alums in commencement ceremony

The College of Professional Studies celebrated graduates Saturday night in the Smith Center.

Student and faculty speakers congratulated more than 170 graduates, including undergraduate and graduate students, at the ceremony and urged them to continue to be leaders. Toni Marsh, the director of paralegal studies and college marshal of the ceremony, said faculty and staff look forward to seeing how graduates use the education they obtained from GW to “make the world a better place” before introducing Liesl Riddle, the dean of CPS.

Riddle said CPS is “a community of change makers” and graduates have experienced networking opportunities like roundtable discussions, career building events and guest speakers in classrooms.

“We fostered an environment where ideas flourish and connections arise,” Riddle said. “As you embark on the next phase of your journey, remember that connections that you forged here are enduring.”

Riddle encouraged graduates to remain engaged in the school’s alumni network and to be on the lookout for the launch of a new “lifelong learning platform” — called Rev U on the commencement booklet — where users can learn with short courses and earn micro-credentials. 

Riddle then introduced Martin W. Rodgers, the college’s distinguished speaker, who centered his speech on key themes that embody a revolutionary including resilience, kindness and attentiveness, “going against the grain” and a commitment to service. He said he used to work on Capitol Hill and had worked with the late congressman John Lewis to pass legislation which would make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national day of service. He added that the legislation kept getting blocked by a senator but said Lewis remained resilient even when the team was frustrated.

“But Congressman Lewis? Nothing could shake his spirit,” Rodgers said. “He never wavered, he never lost the faith and he knew in the end we would prevail because he knew we were on the right side of history.”

Program directors presented the college’s commencement awards to students and faculty before Megan Dillard Murphy, the student speaker, arrived at the podium.

Murphy, a former TV news anchor who received a master’s degree in strategic public relations, said her journey to the stage was not traditional and that she was neglected and emotionally and sexually abused as a child and throughout her high school years. She said that by 18 she was on her own and had developed a cocaine addiction and remembered the night she decided to change. 

“Alone on the floor of an empty apartment, I said out loud to myself ‘Megan, you are either going to stop this or you are going to die,’’” Murphy said. 

Murphy said she found a job as a secretary that allowed her to earn enough money to “get on her feet” after overcoming her addiction and couch surfing with relatives. She said she earned her degree virtually and the first time she came to campus was Friday.

“That’s the beauty of a modern age,” Murphy said. “The beauty of a school like ours that affords anyone the opportunity to have a seat at this great table. Even those of us whose beginning destined us for a life of failure and loss, those of us who looked at our surroundings of negativity, poverty, minority status and said ‘No, these things will not define me.’”

As Murphy concluded her speech by congratulating the class, the audience, graduates and those on the stage all gave her a standing ovation.

Before presenting the graduates, Marsh asked attendees to take a moment to honor a student who died in January, Jordan Randolph, and posthumously awarded him a master’s degree in Paralegal Studies.

“Jordan was an exceptional individual, excelling in academics and athletics alike,” Marsh said.

Riddle acknowledged the work of CPS faculty in shaping the next generation of leaders, and CPS staff for ensuring operations run smoothly. She also again urged graduates to return to campus before graduate Shelby R. Kaplan, who received her master’s degree in Legislative Affairs, sung the alma mater.

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