In January 2021, 15 new master of global affairs students from 11 countries set foot on a Notre Dame campus that was blanketed in snow. Those arriving from countries with warmer climates were greeted at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport with their first pair of snow boots and winter coats. A global pandemic was raging; mask mandates were in place; and the new arrivals’ US classmates, who hadn’t faced pandemic-related travel restrictions, had already begun the program on schedule in August.
Despite the challenges of an off-sequence start in a new country during a pandemic, these 15 students successfully completed the master of global affairs program, an extraordinary achievement that was celebrated by Keough School faculty, staff, and students in a jubilant December 7 recognition ceremony.
“I charge you with the improbable but not impossible task of transforming these plague years into a platform for action,” said Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough Dean, in his address to the graduates. “These years have made us ever more sober-minded, realistic, and detailed in our appraisal of the obstacles ahead. In order to succeed, your research, teaching, activism, advocacy, and attentiveness in pursuit of justice must be accompanied by a sustaining faith in your ability to prevail.
“Thank you for sharing your lives with us these years. Know that here at Notre Dame and the Keough School, we will continue to accompany, support and cheer you on, as you labor with grace and persistence for a peaceful, just, and humane future for all people.”
MGA graduate Mohammad Farrae, from Pakistan who was selected by his classmates to share remarks, spoke about their shared challenges of overcoming “impostor syndrome,” a common phenomenon among graduate students.
“I know I still feel a bit like an impostor, and that’s because the entire experience of studying here has been an unbelievable dream for me,” Farrae said. “ When I look at my classmates, however, I only see leaders with unlimited potential; global leaders ready to face adversity; leaders ready to learn and grow; leaders, who will make lasting impacts in their fields and most importantly leaders, with kind hearts who will be bringing everyone along with them.”
Farrae concluded his remarks with a poem by the Muslim poet Allama Iqba, a prayer that he had recited daily as a primary school student in Pakistan:
My heart’s desire comes to my lips as a prayer
O God! May like the candle be the life of mine!
May the world’s darkness disappear through the life of mine!
May every place light up with the sparkling light of mine!
May my land, through my work, attain elegance
As the garden, through flowers, attains elegance.
May my life be like that of a moth that loves light and flies into it, O Lord!
May I deeply love the lamp of knowledge, O Lord!
May my work be to help the poor
And to fill the lives of the hurt and week with love
O God, save me from the evil and wrong
And keep me on the path that is straight and righteous.
The evening’s ceremony was live streamed for the graduates’ family and friends around the globe.
The December graduates from the Keough School’s master of global affairs program include:
- Maria Mikaela Torres Bona (The Philippines)
- Mohammad Farrae (Pakistan)
- Sophia Dianne C. Garcia (The Philippines)
- Imre Gabor Holtzer (Hungary)
- Donovan Kevin Leiva (Belize)
- Tinaishe Maramba (Zimbabwe)
- Juan Sebastian Mosquera Sepúlveda (Colombia)
- Sarah Njeri Nanjala (Kenya)
- Susan Kanuu Nchubiri (Kenya)
- Eduardo Andres Pages Jimenez (Ecuador)
- Lamarre Presuma (Haiti)
- Dara-Marie Aisha Raggay (Trinidad and Tobago)
- Anna Romandash (Ukraine)
- Angelina Soriano Nuncio (Mexico)
- Rayangnewende Jean Marc Tiendrebeogo (Burkina Faso)
Congratulations to our newest master of global affairs graduates!