A woman in a floral blue shirt smiles outside the entrance to a building
Category: Georgetown Faces, Spirit of Georgetown

Title: A Peek Behind the Curtain at Georgetown’s Commencement Wiz

A woman in a blue floral shirt smiles.
Meghan Hogge is the director of academic events at Georgetown.

This story is part of a Georgetown Faces, a storytelling series that celebrates the beloved figures, unsung heroes and dedicated Hoyas who make our campus special.

One of Meghan Hogge’s main roles is planning Georgetown’s commencement. She ensures the water stations are ordered, the program book is printed, flowers are planted, sign language interpreters are in place, and that the 13 individual commencement ceremonies run smoothly.

It’s a lot of work. But if you see her on commencement weekend, you’ll probably see her smiling.

“People always say to me, ‘I don’t understand why you look so happy right now,’ said Hogge, the director of academic events. “But by the time commencement starts, all the work is done. You’re seeing all your hard work come to fruition. So it’s fun to sit back and watch it all happen.”

Hogge has worked at Georgetown since 1998, when she worked as a temp in the Department of Pediatrics. She transitioned to the School of Foreign Service, where she began planning the school’s events, including its commencement ceremony and annual Diplomatic Ball.

Hogge ran her first commencement for the Office of the Provost in 2006 and hasn’t stopped since. She’s won two President’s Excellence Awards for her work in 2015 and 2018. In addition to commencement, Hogge runs New Student Convocation, faculty convocation, honorary degree ceremonies and Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit Honor Society. And she’s already looking ahead to when her daughter graduates from the School of Nursing in 2027.

“I want to be able to enjoy commencement as a mother that year,” she said.

We caught up with her in the midst of commencement planning this year to find out what’s thrown her for a loop, the speaker she’s dying to meet, and what keeps her coming back year after year to make the ceremonies come alive.

A white woman stands next to Georgetown's blue seal outside a building.The surprising moment my career took off: My brother (B’00) was a senior in the School of Business, and I was working in the Department of Pediatrics. It rained for commencement, so we went for our 8:00 reservation at Sequoia on the Georgetown Waterfront, and Sequoia had moved everybody who was outdoors indoors. When we got there at eight, they said, ‘We can’t seat you until 10.’

We had a group of 50 people [for dinner]. I was like, that’s not going to work. So I started calling restaurants I knew. We ended up going to one of our favorite restaurants. We had the whole restaurant to ourselves. My brother’s roommate’s mother came up to me during dinner and said, ‘I need somebody like you to come work for me.’ She was the incoming director of undergraduate studies for the School of Foreign Service. I had two interviews with the deans in SFS and then started working there a couple months later.

What I remember about my first commencement: I was really nervous. I remember being exhausted with having an infant and working two jobs as the program assistant in SFS while transitioning to the director of academic events role. I think I fell asleep on the bench during the law school ceremony because law was at the end of the four days.

What I love about commencement: Oh, gosh. Campus is just so beautiful. Everybody’s just so happy. It’s a time of celebration. Parents and families are thrilled. Students are thrilled. It’s such a time of happy emotion.

Why you might see me smiling during commencement: People always say to me, ‘I don’t understand why you look so happy right now. I guess they think I should be more stressed, but by the time commencement starts, all the work is done. It’s really just making sure that the trains are running and that everything stays on track. You are running on adrenaline, but it’s also a time of relief, and you’re seeing your product and all your hard work come to fruition. It’s fun to sit back and watch it all happen.

If you see me on commencement day this year, you’ll probably see me smiling.

Meghan Hogge

Commencements that have thrown me for a loop: We’ve had our fair share of weather incidents — and I mean, we’ve had it all. We’ve had the monsoons where we’ve had to be indoors in McDonough Gymnasium because there are ducks swimming on the front lawn. There’s always something that happens. You’ve just got to put the fire out. That’s the first thing to do is find out what the problem is and then put the fire out.

The commencement that meant a lot to me: One of my nephews graduated in 2019. It was the last family event that my father attended. He died about 10 days later. It was first thing in the morning, and it was beautiful. It was meaningful to have most of my family there to be there for my nephew, but then also to see everything I do to make these commencements happen.

The person I’m dying to meet: I will probably pass out of sheer, I don’t know, nerves, but Bradley Cooper (C’97), I am dying to meet. I keep joking to Jack [DeGioia], for my retirement gift, I need to meet Bradley Cooper in person. Some people get rocking chairs. I don’t want a chair. I just want to meet Bradley Cooper.

What makes me get up in the morning: The people here at Georgetown. The people I work with across campus, the friends I’ve made. The friends who reached out to me after my father died, and then last year, my family went through a really tough time.

My husband had a stroke in December of 2022, and then had some continuing health issues last summer because of the stroke. If I was anywhere else, I don’t think I would’ve been able to continue my job. But it was because I was at Georgetown and people stepped in in ways that I stepped in for them when they needed help. So it really is that care for the whole person here at Georgetown. That’s what makes me get up and continue my job.

What I wish people knew about my job: I don’t think people realize everything that goes into making commencement happen. People on campus may not know I’m the one who does the stages, the tents, the flowers, the wheelchairs, the commencement program books, the sign language interpreters, all of it from A to Z is me and my office, which is me and John Pierce. And it’s the collaboration with all the dean’s offices, who also do a lot of work.

To have a successful commencement is to have that collaboration from all these offices. My job becomes easy that weekend because of everybody else doing their job well. Everything’s been prepared. All the tulips have been planted and replanted, and the gates have been painted black. There’s so much work that goes into perfecting the lawn area and preparing for commencement.

A white woman in a white jacket and blue hat poses with her son in a jacket in front of a soccer field at night.
Hogge and her son watched Georgetown’s soccer team win their championship game in 2019 in North Carolina.

When I’m not event planning, you’ll find me: Watching some kind of soccer. My son plays travel soccer for Arlington, so he usually has a game or two. We’re also season ticket members for DC United. And the brother I mentioned earlier is a Georgetown soccer alum so you can often see me at Shaw Field cheering on the Hoyas. I drove my son and my other nephew (C’21) down to Carey, North Carolina, to watch Georgetown win the 2019 Championship. And believe it or not, I like to host people at our house. We love having friends and family over for dinner or a backyard fire pit night.

The word that comes to mind when I think of Georgetown: Family. Georgetown really is a family. It’s a second family to me. That’s why I’ve been here for so long.

And now that my daughter’s here, I see her getting the same care that I get from a lot of my colleagues. People she’s either meeting or people she’s known for the last couple years. 

A mother and daughter sit side-by-side on a bench outdoors and smile.