“Today is a celebration of these amazing students here in front of us,” School of Public Policy Dean Robert C. Orr told the audience at this year’s spring commencement exercises. “This is also a celebration of public service. There is no higher calling, no more noble endeavor. We are very excited about the challenges, the opportunities and the successes that we know lie in wait for our graduates.”
“You will quite literally change the world for the better,” Orr said. “No pressure or anything. This is not to say it will come easy. You enter a world and a field that is quite different than the one you entered when you first walked through our doors.”
Orr continued by telling graduates, “We have many people, especially the people in this room, who expect better. We have public servants, bridge builders, ethical and humble people, innovators, bold thinkers, collaborators and believers who see what the world can and should be.”
This year, the graduating class voted for two of their fellow graduates to speak during commencement: one graduate student and one undergraduate student. The student speakers this year were Nathan Schachter and Morgan Johnson.
“To the class of 2019, we finally did it!” Schachter said. “It seems like just yesterday we came to campus with our heads held high, hoping to achieve academic success and meet friends for life.”
He then advised his fellow graduates, “Civil discourse is crucial, and it’s up to us to lead by example. At the end of the day, each and every one of us wants to make the community of people around us better.”
“When I applied to the School of Public Policy, I not only wanted to learn the ins and outs or practicing policy, but I wanted to challenge myself to become the leader and changemaker that my family, my friends and my mentors believed I could be,” said graduate student speaker Morgan Johnson.
“As you embark on this new journey, with so many possibilities, I challenge you to say yes,” Johnson said. “Say yes to the difficult conversations. Say yes to employing empathy in your day-to-day, because we know that the policy world needs it. And say yes to any opportunity that may be a little frightening. Not only will you find enriching experiences, but you never know where a yes may land you in your life.”
Following the student speakers, Maryland Delegate and SPP Alumnus Jazz Lewis delivered the commencement address.
“As dean, I not only respect Delegate Lewis, I deeply appreciate him,” Orr said. “He has always answered the call when his school needs him. He has also served as a very effective mentor to many of our students and graduates.”
“My message, in honor to anyone who’s ever studied President Theodore Roosevelt, is for you all to get action,” Lewis said. “I believe in today’s times we need to channel our inner Teddy. The world you’re entering as newly-minted graduates is complicated. So long as you are committed to stepping up to the plate and seizing your moment in history, you’ll be prepared for it.”
“The challenges of today require those who engage in policymaking not only to be good leaders, but good listeners,” he added. “As I look out at each and every one of you, I think about the promise of our generation. I see much cause for hope that reason and principle will continue to serve as your guide be it working at the local, state, national, international or non-governmental level.”
You can watch the entire Commencement ceremony on the SPP YouTube channel and you can view photos from Commencement on the SPP Flickr account.
Individual commencement photos will be emailed directly to the graduates from GradImages.