Celebration 2020

Multicultural Student Services Center
12th Annual Graduation Celebration

Thursday, May 14th at 10:00 AM

Friends, family, faculty, staff, alumni, allies, community partners, campus life partners, and members of the “Multicultural Class of 2020” are invited to join us for the MSSC Graduation Celebration 2020 via livestream and social media on Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. You are also invited to attend the May 2021 University-wide Bicentennial Commencement on the National Mall.

The Graduation Celebration video will be available for live viewing via the hyperlink below at 10:00 am EST on Thursday and then can be re-watched any time after the completion of the program at noon. If you have any problems accessing the video, please contact our office at [email protected]. We will return your email as soon as possible.


Watch the Ceremony


Collage of pictures from the 2019 Graduation Celebration

Celebration Program 


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00:15     Introduction by Michael Tapscott

02:37     Processional

03:53     National Anthem by Jane Ogagan

05:23     Invocation by Maryam Alhassani, Katelin Gochberg, and Jaiya Lalla

06:51     Welcome by Caroline Laguerre-Brown

11:07     Occasion by Michael Tapscott

17:08     Community Awards 

                       Naja Nelson (17:12) 

                       Luis Otero (18:54) 

                       André Gonzales (22:35) 

                       Samuel Chuan (26:35) 

                       Jaiya Lalla (29:44)

32:21     GW Alumni Association by Chris Hooten

36:11     Charge by Michael Tapscott

40:04     Benediction by Timothy Kane

42:29     Words from Dean Petty

42:53     Recessional / Senior Slideshow

49:21     Reading of 2020 Graduates


A PDF version of this program is also available.


Michael Tapscott

Letter from Michael Tapscott, Director of the Multicultural Student Services Center

Congratulations to our Multicultural Class of 2020!

One of the most joyful aspects of our work in the Multicultural Student Services Center (MSSC) is the opportunity to contribute to building a culturally intelligent university community that is as "woke" as it is morally centered.  We have seen growth in the number of students who strive to embrace the uncommonly positive values we associate with diversity and inclusion.  Thank you for allowing us to join you on your journey over the past four years. Commencement marks a kind of "first day" of the rest of your life milestone, one significant step during a multistage journey that, with all that you have experienced here, will take you to the places that you have always dreamed of.  

Members of the Multicultural Student Community, you have developed the academic and intellectual skills that every university graduate does. However, please recognize that you brought a range of unique cultural expression, skills, and insight to many of your peers. Some of you made the decision to share your diverse life experience with others.  Some of you decided not to, standing firmly by the reasonable belief that it is not your job to educate others on fundamental aspects of diversity and inclusion that perhaps informed people should already know. Many of you share your culture and identity with passionate ease by merely being present.  The resource you share is cultural education, and the methodology is experiential learning. Defined by a process in which you have “developed skills, values, and direct experiences outside of the traditional academic setting,” your presence on campus contributed to the readiness of your peers for an increasingly diverse world outside of the GW bubble.

The other gift that comes along with cultural education is your personal development around your primary, secondary, and tertiary identities. Multicultural students experience diversity and inclusion uniquely. There are days when you live with an active and constant awareness of your identity and differences, and of course, there are days when you do not.  One of the expressions we hear so often about the Multicultural Student Services Center is that we live with the full breadth and range of our campus diversity, every single day.  Every imaginable background, race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, ability, nationality, age, socio-economic status visits that building daily, providing influential touchpoints and connections that you reflect in social exchanges throughout campus. 

Developing cultural competency and awareness is one of the many end goals of an excellent undergraduate university experience shaping one's ability to navigate a broad range of identities as defined by our national dialogue around difference. However, an even more important skill you have developed through your GW experience is called cultural "intelligence," a five-stage escalating trajectory of development that prepares you for diversity in a more global society. 

The challenges around managing race and difference in an American context, are magnified by the dynamics of complex global cultures.  During your time at GW, you have strengthened the “drive, knowledge, strategy, and action” associated with cultural intelligence that allows you to engage difference seamlessly, effectively, with comfort, ease, and confidence.  Wherever your career may take you in the world, you can walk into any setting inspired and prepared for cross-cultural excellence.  Cultural Intelligence drive defines your motivation to be successful and effective, knowledge defines the experiences you have collected here, strategy defines the capacity to take the knowledge and apply it, and action defines its seamless, noncognitive application.  We hope that your experience in the world of work mirrors your best experiences around diversity and inclusion on campus, and in that grand old building at 2127 G Street, North-West. DC.

We are confident that you have grown significantly around culture, diversity and inclusion. More importantly, we hope you have grown together as a class, as a community, and as a family, anchored by the MSSC and the George Washington University experience.  This growing partnership is a lifelong endeavor, and the MSSC family is thrilled to join you on the journey, and play one small part in your celebration today. "ENTHUSIASM!"



The MSSC Staff & Michael R. Tapscott
Multicultural Student Services Center
The George Washington University


Our Speakers


Caroline Laguerre-Brown

Caroline Laguerre-Brown

Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement

Caroline Laguerre-Brown serves as the Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement. Caroline directs GW’s efforts to advance diversity and inclusion throughout the university and oversees the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, the Office of Disability Support Services, the Multicultural Student Services Center, and the Title IX Office.

Prior to joining the George Washington University in August 2016, Caroline previously served as the Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer at Johns Hopkins University where she developed their first university-wide sexual harassment prevention training initiative, spearheaded unconscious bias training for faculty search committees, launched a Race in America speaker series and co-developed a comprehensive faculty diversity initiative. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, she held positions as labor and employment defense counsel for the New York City Transit Authority and as assistant director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Office for the Fire Department of New York. She also served as staff counsel to the Equal Employment Advisory Council in Washington, D.C.


Chris Hooten

Chris Hooten

Associate Director, Alumni Engagement and Outreach

Chris Hooten has recently joined the Office of Alumni Relations at GW as the Associate Director of Alumni Engagement & Outreach. The Office of Alumni Relations and Chris are currently looking at identifying new opportunities, strategies, and programs to better engage and connect with our multicultural alumni. Chris is seeking to connect with and engage diverse members of GW’s alumni family by hearing from them about alumni about their experiences. To connect with Chris and share your experience, email him at [email protected].

Our Anthem Singer 


Jane Ogagan

Jane Ogagan

Milken Institute School of Public Health

Jane is receiving her Master of Science in Public Health Microbiology and Emerging Infectious Diseases.


Invocation Speakers


Maryam Alhassani

Maryam Alhassani

Columbian College of Arts & Sciences Graduate

Maryam is receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Peace Studies with a minor in Journalism and Mass Communication. During her time at GW, she was involved with the Muslim Student Association and the Arab Student Association.


Katelin Gochberg

Katelin Gochberg

Elliott School of International Affairs Graduate

Katelin is receiving her Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs with a concentration in Global Public Health and a minor in Sustainability. During her time at GW, she was involved with GW Hillel, Jewish Student Association, GW STAR, and Chi Omega Fraternity.


Jaiya Lalla

Jaiya Lalla

Elliott School of International Affairs Graduate

Jaiya is receiving her Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs. During her time at GW, she was involved with the Interfaith Council at the George Washington University, GW Hindu Students Association, GW Naach, and GW STAR.


Student Leader Award Winners


Sally Pak

Sally Pak

Asian Pacific Islander Community



Naja Nelson

Naja Nelson

Black Community



Jaiya Lalla

Jaiya Lalla

Interfaith Community



Luis Otero

Luis Otero

Latinx Community



Samuel Chuan

Samuel Chuan

LGBTQIA+ Community



André Gonzalez

André Gonzales

Native American Community



Nazra Amin

Nazra Amin

South Asian Community



Benediction Speaker


Timothy Kane

Timothy Kane

Associate Director, Multicultural Student Services Center

Timothy Kane is MSSC Associate Director for Inclusion Initiatives. Timothy received his Bachelors of Arts from Hamilton College, his Masters of Divinity from Harvard University, and his Masters of Theology in Justice and Peace Studies from Maryknoll School of Theology. As a certified instructor of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Timothy also holds a Certificate in International Development from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a Graduate Certificate in HIV/AIDS Studies from the GW School of Public Health and Health Services, a Graduate Certificate in International Education from the GW School of Education and Human Development, and a Graduate Certificate in Islamic Studies from the GW Department of Religion.



Hail Alma Mater
To thy spirit guiding,
Knowledge thy closest friend
In its strength abiding,
Pledge we fidelity
Ne'er its place resigning,
Hail thee George Washington!


2021 Commencement

The class of 2020 is invited to join GW at the bicentennial Commencement on the National Mall in May 2021. Specific details will be shared when they are available.