The Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame honored 33 graduates in the Master of Global Affairs Class of 2021 and five newly minted PhD graduates in an outdoor recognition ceremony on May 22.
Held at Notre Dame’s Frank Eck Baseball stadium, the ceremony provided socially distanced seating for attendees and also was streamed online for friends and family of the graduates, who come from 17 countries.
Resilience, dedication, and perseverance amid challenges were persistent themes in remarks shared by several speakers, which included Caroline Hughes, Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; Asher Kaufman, John M. Regan, Jr. Director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies; Becca Méndez, associate director of the Master of Global Affairs program; Hugo Flores Navarro, a member of the MGA Class of 2021, and Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough Dean of the Keough School.
“In 25 years as a faculty member at different universities around the world, I have not encountered a graduating class that had such difficult struggles to contend with,” said Hughes, referring to the global pandemic that forced Notre Dame to suspend in-person classes during the spring 2020 semester, cancel international study and work opportunities for its students, and carry out the 2020-21 academic year under strict public health protocols. “We are so proud of the way these students have worked together, supported each other, and ultimately prevailed. We will never forget the remarkable dedication you showed to completing your studies and setting out to make a difference in the world, even after the world appeared to be collapsing around you.”
“I charge you with the improbable but not impossible task of transforming the plague year into a platform for action,” Appleby said. “The year has 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.”
Kaufman praised the five graduates of the doctoral program in peace studies, which now has 32 alumni, and reflected on the growth of the program.
“Thirteen years ago, when this program was launched, we were hopeful but did not in our wildest dreams think that it would become one of our most successful enterprises, exemplified in a large number of applicants, strong student body, and their research and postgraduate placements in academic and non-academic jobs” he said. “These achievements would not be possible without you, our students, who are the real reasons and drivers for the success of the program.”
Master of global affairs graduate Hugo Flores Navarro, from Mexico, also delivered remarks, urging his classmates to put others first when creating policy or designing development projects, citing the biblical injunction “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“We can trace all of the problems in society back to forgetting this principle,” Flores Navarro said. “And we can find solutions to society’s problems by observing it.”
Congratulations to all of the graduates!