Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Seniors Gather for Convocation

The event included speeches by several students and administrators and a keynote address by Norah O’Donnell (COL ’95, GRD ’04), White House correspondent for NBC news and chief Washington correspondent for MSNBC. Last year’s convocation did not include a keynote address from a prominent professor or alumnus, after organizers decided that the ceremony should more closely reflect the fall convocation for new students, which does not feature a keynote.

“Before everything else – congratulations, you finally made it,” O’Donnell said. She emphasized the importance of decisiveness, hard work and preparedness in gaining the trust and confidence of co-workers and associates.

“Don’t compare yourself to others,” she said, advising students to compare themselves instead to their best ideas of what they can be. “As you start pursuing your goals, it’s important to measure your own progress.”

Before the speech, University President John J. DeGioia commended O’Donnell for her “rare ability to illuminate the thoughts of others” and presented her with the President’s Medal.

The Senior Convocation ceremony takes the place of a combined, four-school commencement, which Georgetown ended in 1987 due to a lack of parking space for the parents and friends of all seniors.

University Provost James J. O’Donnell officially presented the Class of 2005 for admission to this weekend’s commencement ceremonies.

“Today, at this convocation, we make a . transition, as you move from students to alumni,” he said. “Your relation to Georgetown does not come to an end this week, it changes and grows.”

O’Donnell also praised the diversity of the graduating class, whose 1,681 members represent 49 states and 49 nations and range in age from 19 to 63.

DeGioia then invited William G. Reynolds (COL ’79), associate vice president for alumni and university relations, to present the class pin to the senior class as a symbol of their enduring connection to Georgetown and continuing commitment to service.

The ceremonies took on a more solemn note, however, as Gerard Tedino (MSB ’05) delivered a memorial address for his friend Daniel Rigby (MSB ’05), who died in a rowhouse fire last fall that prompted a series of safety inspections and evictions throughout the Georgetown area.

“Dan was one of the strongest people around, both mentally and physically,” Tedino said. “Danny will be remembered because he touched so many people in so little time. . We know he’s in a better place now, always watching over us and inspiring us.”

The convocation also featured the presentation of the senior class gift by David Cooper (COL ’05) and Meghan Sullivan (COL ’05). The 2005 senior class raised more money than any prior class and gave the top donation in the country, Sullivan said. The $43,000 gift will fund the construction of a new memorial flagpole for Rigby, a grand piano in the auditorium of the planned Royden B. Davis, S.J., Performing Arts Center, and various other projects and contributions to student activities.

“We have all been touched by this place,” Cooper said. “This class has truly set a new standard for future classes.”

The convocation also featured addresses by two seniors who won competitive national scholarships. Ben Cote (COL ’05), who won a Mitchell Scholarship to Ireland and founded a campus group advocating the prevention of sexual violence, said that he had learned that a degree is not necessarily equivalent to an education during his time on the Hilltop. Cote also served on the board of directors of THE HOYA for the 2004-05 academic year.

“For me, the degree is about knowing, and the education . is what you do with what you know,” he said.

Jennifer Howitt (SFS ’05), a gold medalist in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games who was named a Rhodes Scholar in November, said that her experiences working to improve the conditions of handicapped people in impoverished areas of the world had taught her that activism must be combined with education and preparation to be effective.

“If I’ve learned anything at Georgetown, it’s this – helping others is about more than just doing something,” she said. “We have to bring together our passion and our education. . We have to let ourselves become greater than our good intentions.”

DeGioia concluded the ceremony with his reflections on the Class of 2005, with which he said he felt a special connection because the now-graduating seniors arrived at Georgetown at the same time he began his tenure as president of the university. He also remarked on the experiences he shared with the class during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when both he and the current seniors – the last Georgetown class to have experienced the attacks first-hand – had just began to settle into their new home at Georgetown.

“Seemingly out of nowhere, the brutal action of terrorists rocked our world. . I’m sure many of you would rather have been far away from Washington, D.C.,” DeGioia said.

“Yet ultimately I think this was the right place for us to be,” he added, as he described the willingness of Georgetown students to reach out to others and console those affected by the attacks.

“We’re deeply gratified for the legacy that you leave at this campus,” DeGioia said. “Georgetown is a better place today because of you. You will be missed, and you will be remembered.”

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