2023 Student Speaker Announced for Commencement on the National Mall

Columbian College of Arts & Sciences student Giselle Elisa Garcia will deliver the student address at Commencement in May.

April 9, 2023

Giselle Garcia

(William Atkins/GW Today)

Giselle Elisa Garcia, a senior criminal justice major with double minors in psychology and STEM teaching, has been selected to deliver remarks to approximately 25,000 people at Commencement on the National Mall on Sunday, May 21.

A New York native and the child of a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father, Garcia is deeply committed to dismantling systems of oppression and injustice. She has worked as an intern and field organizer for multiple political campaigns and organizations, including U.S. Rep. Nita M. Lowey; Carolyn Bordeaux for Congress; Alianza, the first Afro LatinX organization at GW; and LatinoJustice PRLDEF, or the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. Garcia has also worked with the GW Teach program, teaching second and eleventh grade science classes at local schools.

Garcia said she was thrilled to have the opportunity to share the stage with this year’s Commencement speaker, Bryan Stevenson, who is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human rights organization whose mission speaks to her passions and career goals.

“For me, this is genuinely a dream come true,” said Garcia. “I feel that everything I've worked toward my whole life has come to this moment. I've always been incredibly passionate about using my voice, and what better place to do it than at the National Mall in front of the GW community?”

Garcia is the winner of a multi-round student speaker competition that launched in early spring and was open to all members of the graduating Class of 2023. GW’s 10 schools and colleges were each asked to review submissions and select a semifinalist to advance to a round of online voting. The semifinalists’ recorded speeches were posted online, and community members had the opportunity to vote for their favorite speech. The five finalists with the most votes were invited to a final round audition in front of a committee comprising GW community members. 

Registration is required to attend Commencement on the National Mall and other weekend activities. Graduates may register online by Friday, May 12.