GW Welcomes Class of 2027 and New Transfer Students at Convocation

In her first Convocation address, President Ellen M. Granberg challenged students to work together with a shared goal of changing the world.

September 25, 2023

Convocation 2023

President Ellen M. Granberg addressed GW's first-year and new transfer students during Convocation at the Charles E. Smith Center. (William Atkins/GW Today)

President Ellen M. Granberg welcomed new students on Saturday in her first Convocation as 19th president of the George Washington University, now in its in third century of educating future leaders set on advancing society and creating a better world.

The beginning of her tenure as president, which started on July 1, coincides with GW being a freshly minted member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and having a new identity that signifies GW’s appetite for going beyond what is conventional to shift mindsets and create a better future for itself and the world.

Addressing the GW Class of 2027 and new transfer students at the Charles E. Smith Center during Saturday morning’s Convocation, Granberg urged them to make their mark on the world by expanding their thinking, challenging their assumptions and broadening their horizons.

She issued a call to take full advantage of all the opportunities GW provides both in and out of the classroom, such as participating in the day’s Welcome Day of Service projects throughout the community. In these students, Granberg said, she sees a group of people ready to meet the challenge and usher in a new chapter in the university’s illustrious history.

“When you came to GW, you joined a community of individuals who all have the same intellect, curiosity and desire to have an impact as you. You and your peers have all come to GW to achieve a shared goal—to learn to change the world,” Granberg said. “But each of you will develop a very different perspective on how to do this—that’s what makes us Revolutionaries.

“Class of 2027, congratulations and welcome to the George Washington University!”

Convocation, held at the beginning of every academic year, is an annual GW event paired with the Welcome Day of Service that brings together first-year students at the university to formally welcome them to the academic community and teach them important traditions such as the fight song and Alma Mater. The morning ceremony includes a procession of academic leaders, trustees and staff members.

Aside from Granberg, Saturday’s attendees and participants included Provost Christopher Alan Bracey, Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights, J.D. ’82, and the deans of GW’s five undergraduate residential colleges: Alyssa Ayres, Lynn Goldman, John Lach, Anuj Mehrotra and Paul Wahlbeck, each of whom encouraged their school’s students to cheer and applaud when their school was recognized.

This year’s Convocation came a month later than usual due to the new floor installation at the Smith Center, and students came in on Saturday having already contributed to the university through their classwork, activity involvement and service.

Their efforts in a month in have not gone unnoticed.

“The pursuit of academic excellence is just one part of what it means to be a GW student. The other critical piece that defines each and every one of you is your demonstrating enthusiasm for showing up as your authentic self every day and fully embracing the experience of being a resident scholar at GW,” said Bracey. “In addition to being your provost, I'm also a law professor and a lawyer. So, I can confidently declare myself an eyewitness to all the ways that you are showing up here.”

Granberg, a nationally recognized scholar in sociology, identity and mental health, certified Bracey’s observation.

“I am so thrilled that Provost Bracey mentioned how active and engaged you all have been over the last month,” Granberg said. “Now, I am not a lawyer, but I can certainly corroborate his eyewitness testimony. It has been such a delight to get to meet so many of you already and join you at so many fantastic events.”

One such student who has lived out GW’s mission of training future leaders to shape society, senior international affairs major Dasia Bandy, this year’s Convocation student speaker, challenged her new peers to combine their own ambition with motivation and collaboration from other members of the GW community to unlock potential and think bigger.

Bandy, who is concentrating in comparative politics, economics and social systems with a minor in mass communication and journalism, found that out when she ran for Student Association president, a stressful process that relied heavily on teamwork and support from resources across the university, including the Multicultural Student Services Center. While she wasn’t elected, the experience taught her critical lessons about campaigns, voter participation and the skills and artistry necessary to run for office.

It took her down a different path. Last January, she was sworn in to serve in local government as the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for the 2A07 single-member district, which encompasses Foggy Bottom. Her journey drew applause from the first-year students on Saturday, and she closed her remarks by encouraging involvement and togetherness.

“As you pursue your own path here, allow others to accelerate your pace and serve others by imagining what more is possible when we’re working together. Our campus is a tapestry of diverse backgrounds, perspectives and talents,” Bandy said. “Your GW experience extends far beyond the classroom walls. It is the communities we build, the connections we foster and the bonds we form that truly shape who we become.”

Bandy’s journey is the exact learning environment Granberg envisions fostering at GW. And it appears GW’s newest faces—administration and students alike—are ready to add to the GW legacy and create their own in the name of bettering the world around them.

“As our future leaders, one of the single most important skills that I know you take away from your time at GW is the ability to engage constructively despite the difference to work across disciplines to learn important lessons from a wide range of perspectives and experiences,” Granberg said.

“These aren't always easy things to do,” she continued. “But you didn't come to GW to do what's easy. Each of you came to GW to accomplish incredible things.”