Media Relations

2010 Commencement

More than 2,000 graduates at American University heard speeches from the first female president of Chile, two dedicated public servants, an entrepreneur and an Academy–Award winning filmmaker at AU’s 124th main commencement ceremonies on May 8 and 9.

Video of the individual commencement ceremonies follows below.

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School of Communication Ceremony

American University's 124th commencement began with the School of Communication ceremony and speaker Barbara Kopple, Academy Award winning filmmaker. Kopple received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Kopple told graduates, "There are so many voices that need to be amplified, so many fascinating stories to tell." She added, "to communicate is to connect, to build community."

Student speakers Jennifer Denise Dorsey (graduate speaker) and Molly Anne Sauer (undergraduate speaker) addressed the SOC graduates before Kopple's remarks.

President Neil Kerwin closed out the speeches with his charge to graduates, telling them, "We are a better place because of you."

Barbara Kopple

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Academy Award winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple addresses SOC graduates

Kogod School of Business Ceremony

Seth Goldman, cofounder, president, and TeaEO of Honest Tea, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law before offering eight pieces of advice for graduates of the Kogod School of Business.

The first, a Chinese proverb, resonated with the crowd and students following the ceremony on Twitter, "Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it."

Goldman made his speech interactive with what he called a "wonk exercise," asking students to compute what it costs to make a bottle of tea.

Following Goldman's speech, Kogod student Joel Croft was presented with the Bruce Hughes Award and the University Student Award for Outstanding Service to the University Community. Leah Lesko was awarded the Charles C. Glover Award for citizenship and leadership.

Seth Goldman, TeaEO of Honest Tea

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Seth Goldman, TeaEO of Honest Tea, addresses the graduates of Kogod School of Business.

School of International Service Ceremony

Michelle Bachelet, the first female president of Chile, addressed graduates of the School of International Service after receiving an honorary Doctor of International Affairs.

Bachelet recalled the words of President John F. Kennedy during his 1963 commencement address at American University.

"As President Kennedy said, 'Wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together.' Democracy is a system of freedoms...let us not be afraid of participation, even if it means less power for the state...let us not be afraid to give up power, because in reality, we are not giving it up. We are giving it back."

SIS student Stephanie Bunmi Odarkor Ayeh was presented with the Carlton Savage Award. Robin Koepke was presented with a university student award for outstanding scholarship at the graduate level.

Bachelet summed up the spirit of the day, and the School of International Service, telling graduates, "You have been given the tools. Now is the time to go out and change the world."

Michelle Bachelet, SIS Commencement

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Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile addresses the graduates of the School of International Service.

School of Public Affairs Ceremony

Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and former Health and Human Services secretary during the Clinton administration, addressed the School of Public Affairs graduates.

"I believe in this new century: Where the burden of history—and the yoke of disease—is finally lifted from our children," said Shalala, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service. "Where every child can grab the baton of education and sprint to a prosperous future. Where equality and economic opportunity are a certainty—and intolerance a long ago memory."

SPA students Seth Cutter and Allison Gold were presented with the President's Award, the university's highest honor bestowed upon an undergraduate. Cutter was also awarded the University Student Award for Outstanding Service to the University Community and the Cathryn Seckler-Hudson Award. 

Student awards were also presented to: Sonia Tabriz, University Student Award for Outstanding Scholarship at the Undergraduate Level; Kyrie McCauley Bannar, Fletcher Scholar Award; Jenna Rose Sablan, Harold Johnson Award; Georgette Michel Spanjich, Kinsman-Hurst Award; and David William Simnick, Charles W. Van Way Award.

Donna Shalala

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Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami, addresses the School of Public Affairs graduates.

College of Arts & Sciences Ceremony

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, spoke to College of Arts & Sciences graduates about the challenge that lies ahead of them as they face an ever-changing world.

"It is natural to reflect on change when you open new chapters in life," said Napolitano, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service. She continued, "There's a great quote attributed to Michelangelo, 'I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.' AU has given you the best carving tools imaginable. And in a world filled with the opportunities created by rapid change, setting free your visions is easier than it has been for any previous generation."

Awards were presented to the following students: Chelsey Christensen, University Student Award for Outstanding Scholarship at the Graduate Level; William Flynn, University Student Award for Outstanding Scholarship at the Undergraduate Level; Andrew Stephen Veysey, Stafford H. Cassell Award; and Catherine Bullard, Evelyn Swarthout Hayes Award.

Janet Napolitano

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Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, addresses the graduates of the College of Arts & Sciences.