Celebrating Spring 2024 Commencement

May 21, 2024
"Graduates gather with their diplomas"


On Friday, April 26, faculty, staff, family, and friends of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs gathered in Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall to celebrate the Spring 2024 Commencement Ceremony.  

Graduates were greeted with applause and cheers of support as they processed into the auditorium behind the Abafasi African Drum Ensemble. 

"Dean Slotterback offers Welcome Address"“As students, you came here because you want to have not only careers, but also lives of impact,” said Dean Carissa Slotterback in her Welcome Address. “Our students do extraordinary work in the classroom to complete their degrees, but I have also seen you as active members of our community- doing the work that needs to be done to make change and have an impact on our school, our university, and the world around us.”

“The world we find ourselves in today demands leadership, integrity, and ingenuity,” remarked Student Cabinet President and 2024 Master of Public and International Affairs (MPIA) graduate, Maher Oueida. “Addressing the problems our local and global communities face requires individuals with big hearts and bright minds to be the graduates of today and the change-makers of tomorrow.”

Student Cabinet Director of Finance fellow MPIA graduate, Akash Gupta, echoed this with his own encouragement, adding, “Do not be afraid of hardships. Take the risks… Fight through the adversity and, I promise you, you will come out stronger.”

Award-winning students, honored for their outstanding achievements and commitment to the School, were acknowledged and welcomed to the stage amid applause.  A full list of these awardees is below.

"Student receives award from Dean Slotterback"Jacob Garcia (MPA ’19), a Desk Officer in the Executive Office of the President (EOP), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), gave this year’s Commencement Address, using personal stories of finding purpose and overcoming challenges to powerfully underscore his message. 

His remarks highlighted distinct lessons—'moving forward and taking action,' 'bucking conventions, defying the odds, and finding what makes you unique,' and 'public service, finding purpose, and what motivates me' — inspiring this year's graduates to step into the unknown with courage and conviction. 

“Once you graduate, there is no syllabus. There is no final exam. There are no grades. You must be fearless in moving forward," shared Garcia.

Following the ceremony, graduates and their loved ones gathered in the beautiful spring weather to enjoy refreshments, say goodbyes, and take photos with classmates, professors, and family. 

The full ceremony was live streamed for those unable to attend in person, and a recording is available on the School’s YouTube Channel. Congratulations to all the graduates!

"Students smile after graduating"


Graduation Awards  
International Development Program Award: Stephanie L. Spirk
International Affairs Program Award: Jillian Paige Bennett
Public Administration Program Award: Magda Gangwar
Public Policy and Management Program Award: Victoria Thurmond

Endowed Awards with Special Focus 
Taraknath Das Foundation Prize: Napath V. Good
Gloria Fitzgibbons Memorial Award: Rachel Pecharka
Kevin Morrison Memorial Award: Myles James-Paul Cramer
David E. Oeler Award: Daniel Robert Rudy
Simon Reich Human Security Writing Award: Napath V. Good