On May 12th, New Century College (NCC) celebrated the graduation of the 200 members of its class of 2016. This was the final convocation held under the NCC mantle, as the unit has since been renamed the School of Integrative Studies (SIS). The convocation ceremony, held in the Center for the Arts, celebrated the achievements of the graduating class and offered a time to reflect on the powerful messages all guest speakers shared.
Interim Associate Dean, Kelly Dunne welcomed the audience and encouraged the graduates to consider the concept of community, their experiences building community during college and pledge to foster the communities they join after graduation.
Next, Dean Deborah Boehm-Davis of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to remain in touch with the university, reminding them that George Mason will always be their home. Boehm-Davis explained to the graduates that they play an important role at SIS.
Boehm-Davis said, “This class is the bridge between New Century College’s proud history, which reaches back 20 years, and its promising future.”
Following Boehm-Davis, the student speaker shared her thoughts for her classmates. Kimberly Reed Carmichael is an integrative studies major with a concentration in social innovation and enterprise. She addressed the audience and related a story about a young man returning starfish who had washed above the tide line back in the ocean. Carmichael used that story to frame her belief in the impact that each individual can make on society at large. She entreated her graduating colleagues to lead by example, not hesitating to enact change.
Next, keynote speaker Associate Professor Wendi Manuel-Scott, director of Mason’s African and African American Studies program shared her wisdom with the graduates. Manuel-Scott recalled an important lesson she learned in life: the lesson of listening.
Associate Professor and Director of the African and African American Studies Program, Wendi Manuel-Scott speaking at the 2016 NCC Convocation. (Credit: Grad Images)
She entreated students to “embrace the silence” and pay close attention to the lessons they can learn from others and then use what they learn to shape their actions and efforts to improve their world.
Manuel-Scott said, “This world, our world, has so many rich lessons to teach me, to teach all of you, to teach all of us. The question is, are we open to the lessons? Are we open to be shook and unsettled? The question is will we listen when the least among us speak?”
Following Manuel-Scott’s address, Dunne also recognized Associate Professor Lesley Smith who retires from the college this summer after 18 years of service to the university. Smith studies the critical, cultural and creative exploration of digital environments, and the enhancement of teaching and learning in higher education.
This year’s convocation ceremony also celebrated New Century College’s 2016 award winners. The following honors and distinctions were awarded:
The Student Envoy Award was given to Najeeba Gootee, an integrative studies student with a concentration in art therapy. Selected for their strong interpersonal, communication, and academic skills, Envoys promote SIS and Mason by leading admissions events, working with prospective students, and speaking about our programs in high schools nationwide.
Assistant Professor Noura Erakat presents Tanita Holmes with the 2016 Outstanding Graduate Award. (Credit: Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University)
The next awards presented were the 2016 Awards for Academic Excellence. These awards recognize students who have demonstrated excellence in academics and scholarly activities as reflected in their grade point averages. This year, two students received the honors: Kiera Koen, an integrative studies student with a concentration in elementary education and Mary Wayland an integrative studies student with a concentration in social justice and human rights.
Assistant Professor Noura Erakat then presented the Outstanding Graduate Award to Tanita Holmes, an integrative studies student with a concentration in legal studies. Every year, one student is nominated by faculty and selected to be the Outstanding Graduate. These award winners demonstrate academic excellence, community engagement and outstanding commitment to use their academic training to make the world a better place.
Each year, convocation marks the next chapter of life for the NCC and now SIS alumni. To the class of 2016: best wishes and good luck!
Watch the 2016 NCC Convocation:
June 16, 2016