Keough School community shares gratitude and thanks in celebrating MGA Class of 2020 

The Keough School of Global Affairs honored its master of global affairs graduates with innovative, heartfelt, and hopeful tributes amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Following Notre Dame’s first-ever virtual commencement ceremony, Keough School graduates, their family and friends, and faculty and staff gathered virtually for a “watch party” in real time to view a 40-minute celebration video featuring words of gratitude from the graduates, faculty, advisory council members, and staff.

Nearly 200 people joined the virtual watch party—a Zoom call that included chat box messages in French, Spanish, Uzbek, and Russian, among other languages. 

“Yes, we will remember you for all that was denied you this last three months, and how you endured and even somehow continued to thrive,” said Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough Dean, referring to the university’s decision to close its campus in March 2020 due to the pandemic. “But we will also remember you for the marvelous feats of alchemy you will perform in the years ahead—that is, for your ability to transform the base metal of pandemic-induced hardship into the glistening gold of even-deeper awareness and compassion for others.

“It has been our privilege to work with you, to become your friends and colleagues, and it will be our great joy to watch and continue to try to assist you, as you endeavor to transform this newly traumatized world, village by village, person by person, into a site of healing and renewal.”    

Becca Méndez, associate director of the master of global affairs program, also addressed the graduates. 

As you begin your work as peacebuilders, sustainable development specialists, or global affairs professionals, as you make your way through a great deal of uncertainty to come, we know you to be a group of people with abundant inner resources,” Méndez said. “And we entrust you to draw on those inner resources as you work to create a better world.”

Clemens Sedmak, professor of social ethics, urged and encouraged the graduates to take part in the collective global effort to rebuild a world ravaged by the coronavirus. 

“We need artisans of a new humanity—persons with inspiration and initiative,” Sedmak said. “We need artisans who make hope and create reasons for hope. We need people who are able to work together. We need people like you.”

The video also featured messages of gratitude and thanks from the graduating students, and many highlighted favorite memories and photos from their time in the two-year program. 

Following the virtual watch party, Keough School faculty and staff lined up their cars, forming a street parade, and drove by graduating students’ homes.

The Class of 2020 includes 34 students from 18 countries including Argentina, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey, Uganda, the United States, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

The master of global affairs, a two-year professional degree, prepares its graduates for skilled, effective leadership and careers in government, nongovernmental and civil society organizations, and the private sector.

The degree program integrates rigorous coursework, close engagement with policymakers, multi-disciplinary faculty and students from around the world, and extended fieldwork opportunities in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Washington, DC.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020!