Reflections on Graduation III

By Sailee Gupte

Congratulations, Elliott School Class of 2009!  We will soon be graduates of The George Washington University.  For the last few years, this college has been our home.  Within its dozen city blocks, GW has nurtured us and prepared us for our future.  We entered this university with empty minds, primed for filling.  Hopefully through our experiences here, we leave with more knowledgeable, open minds.  No longer just absorbent sponges, we now have the ability to entertain a thought without accepting it, the true mark of an educated mind according to Aristotle.

I would like to remind each of you that our education will not end on May 17th —our education will continue for the rest of our lives because, as President John Adams asserted, “There are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.”  The Elliott School of International Affairs has sufficiently prepared us academically for our respective futures.  Through the careful guidance of our esteemed professors, the vigorous encouragement of our fellow classmates, and the broad spectrum of Elliott School special events, we have been given a solid foundation of knowledge.  And for that I am very grateful.  I am confident that, as graduates, we now have the capacity to earn a living.  Well, at least when the economy improves.

And as for the other type of education—the “how to live” part—that is a puzzle to which we discover more pieces everyday.  Through each exploration, encounter, and exchange, we learn a little something that we did not know before.  We may not realize the utility of some information at the time, but that puzzle piece does fit; though perhaps in a different corner than the one we were putting together.  We learn more about ourselves, how we handle situations, and most importantly, what truly makes us happy.  In the Elliott School, we’ve been fortunate enough to pursue our specific passions with faculty well-equipped to promote our development.  Now, our duty is to direct our zeal toward our goals.

In the words of American novelist John Updike, “You cannot help but learn more as you take the world into your hands.  Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay, with millions of thumbprints on it.”  So, Elliott School Class of 2009, go explore.  Plunge your hands into the earth and stake your claim.  Just remember to respect those who have come before us.  Learn from their successes and failures.  And in return, I encourage and challenge you to make your mark a thumbprint upon history.  Present to the world the person you have become during your experience in our nation’s capital.

Today I applaud you, not only for what you have accomplished so far, but for what you will achieve.  So I say to the future lawyer, diplomat, consultant, development specialist, historian, overseas reporter, financial analyst, and maybe even a future president, it is up to you to incorporate what you have learned through your education at the Elliott School into your life and into our world.  May the GW Hippo bring you hope and good luck in all your endeavors.

Sailee is an Elliott School senior majoring in International Affairs with a concentration in Latin America and a minor in Spanish. She studied abroad in Argentina where she realized her passion for promoting Latin American issues. She will remain in D.C. after graduation and hopes to continue her studies in law school.

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