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Class of 2021 Together Again at Nationals Park for Conferral of Degrees

For the first time since Georgetown transitioned to a virtual environment due to the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, students in the Class of 2021 convened in person to celebrate their commencement at Nationals Park, home to the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team.

President DeGioia speaks from a podium at Nationals Park
President DeGioia addresses the Class of 2021.

Georgetown conferred more than 6,500 degrees on Monday at a ceremony for undergraduate students in the morning and a ceremony for graduate and professional students in the afternoon. Ceremonies were also broadcast virtually for graduates, families, friends and members of the Georgetown community who were unable to attend in person.

“We come from every corner of the globe. We represent the multitudes of the earth. But together, we are Georgetown,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia in his remarks to the graduating class.

Transforming Nationals Park

Following the announcement of new DC health guidelines a month before commencement, the university worked with the Nationals and the DC government to transition from small in-person gatherings on campus to large in-person ceremonies across town.

Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer warms up with "Hoya Saxa" sign behind him
Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer warms up during commencement exercises.

In addition to coming together in person as a class for the first time in 15 months, graduates were greeted by video messages, student and faculty reflections and traditional commencement exercises like reading the university charter and singing the Georgetown alma mater.

Among the speakers to offer greetings were Georgetown men’s basketball coach and former NBA basketball player Patrick Ewing, actor Leslie Odom Jr. and former secretary of state and Michael and Virginia Mortara Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy Madeleine Albright. His Eminence Wilton Cardinal Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, gave the invocation.

Provost Groves speaks from a podium at Nats Park
Provost Groves begins the presentation of the candidates.

‘Unique and Unprecedented’

Graduates in the Class of 2021 were lauded for their character and accomplishments in the face of challenges presented by the pandemic.

“The frustrations you have experienced, the obstacles you graduates have overcome and the success you have achieved despite everything are all testaments to your character, your patience, your commitment, your resilience,” said Provost Robert M. Groves.

Christine Grady (NHS’74, G’93) and immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, who were married at Dahlgren Chapel and whose children were born at the then-Georgetown University Hospital, recognized a bright future for a class who experienced extraordinary hurdles in a video message to the graduates.

Anthony Fauci and Christine Grady on the Jumbotron at Nats Park
Graduates were greeted by speakers on the Nationals Jumbotron including double Hoya Christine Grady and Dr. Anthony Fauci (Photo: @elmanstudio).

“You have been through a completely unique and unprecedented situation – a historic outbreak that has upended the entire world,” said Fauci. “But you got through it, and you got through it with flying colors, and there’s a world out there waiting for you, waiting for your leadership, waiting for your passion, waiting for your creativity.”

The Class of 2021 also was congratulated with more than 350 messages from family, friends, professors and alumni that now appear on the Class of 2021 web page.

Large letters reading "Hoya Saxa" in front of Healy Hall

Siblings, parents, friends, professors, supporters and fellow alumni shared their thoughts and messages to congratulate the Class of 2021.

‘Radical Empathy’

While the pandemic has created many challenges, it has also revealed new ways to practice self-care, care for loved ones and care for the common good. 

“We have all needed to find new ways of understanding, new ways of caring for one another, new ways of expressing the depth of our love for one another. Radical uncertainty requires radical empathy,” said DeGioia. “You have ensured the spirit of Georgetown is evermore alive during your years here and especially throughout these months of pandemic.”

“We can always be a little bit more empathetic and a little bit more welcoming and give each other grace,” said Hassan Ahmad (L’21) during a video reflection. “I hope we’re able to continue to do that as we start heading back to normal, especially as we graduates head into the workforce and deal with clients and coworkers on a daily basis.”

Reflecting on her favorite Georgetown memory, Kathryn Jordan (B‘21) recognized how DC READS, a tutoring, mentoring and advocacy program that serves elementary school students, has impacted her – and her community. 

“Giving back to the community is a really important part of my character, and I love that I have been able to use my privilege as a Georgetown student to help those in need,” she said.

Weekend of Celebration

The in-person Conferral of Degrees culminated a weekend of events celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2021, including cultural ceremonies, virtual Tropaia events and other award recognitions.

The university also continues to plan for events on campus in 2022 for the Class of 2020 in recognition of the unique and challenging circumstances of their final years at Georgetown.

Below are the numbers of degrees to be conferred by each of Georgetown’s schools.

  • The McCourt School of Public Policy graduated 259 students – including 132 Master of Public Policy students, 31 students in the Master of Public Management program, 20 students who earned Master of International Development Policy degrees and 22 students who earned Master of Science in Data Science for Public Policy degrees.
  • The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences graduated 1,125 students. On the Main Campus, 92 received a Doctor of Philosophy, 265 a Master of Arts in the humanities and social sciences, and 262 a Master of Science in the natural and computational sciences. In Biomedical Graduate Education at the Georgetown University Medical Center, 33 students received a Doctor of Philosophy degree, 466 received a Master of Science in the biomedical sciences and six an Executive Master’s in Clinical Quality, Safety & Leadership.
  • 948 students graduated from the McDonough School of Business – including 328 undergraduates, 368 graduates from the Master of Business Administration program, 57 graduates from the Executive Master’s in Business Administration program, 26 from the Executive Master’s in Leadership program, 102 graduates from the Master of Science in Finance program and 67 graduates from the Master of Science in Management program.
  • The School of Continuing Studies graduated 1,114 students – bestowing 1,028 Master of Professional Studies degrees, 34 Executive Master of Professional Studies degrees, 17 Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degrees, six Doctor of Liberal Studies degrees and 29 Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies degrees.
  • Georgetown College bestowed 681 Bachelor of Arts degrees and 147 Bachelor of Science degrees on its students.
  • The School of Nursing & Health Studies graduated 117 Bachelor of Science students, 298 Master of Science students and 30 doctoral students.
  • The School of Foreign Service granted 384 bachelor’s degrees and 458 master’s degrees to its students.
  • A total of 182 newly minted M.D.s were celebrated during the School of Medicine commencement, including two M.D./Ph.D. and two M.D./MBA.
  • Georgetown Law celebrated the graduation of 956 law students, including 675 J.D.s, 277 LLMs and four Doctor of Juridical Science students.
  • A total of 55 Georgetown University in Qatar students were granted bachelor’s degrees.