College Grads Encouraged to Welcome Obstacles, Help Mom with Dishes

by Anne Reynolds

College Grads Encouraged to Welcome Obstacles, Help Mom with Dishes

The spirited fanfare of the award-winning Green Machine greeted the nearly 2,300 graduating students who took part in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences convocation ceremonies this year. The events took place in the days leading up to the university's Commencement ceremony, and each was notable for the exuberant crowd of family members and friends happy to share in the graduates’ day.

On Thursday, May 12, the convocation for the humanities and interdisciplinary studies welcomed graduating students with degrees in art history, communication, community college education, creative writing, cultural studies, English, environmental and sustainability studies, foreign languages, global affairs, history, history of decorative arts, individualized study, integrative studies, interdisciplinary studies, Latin American studies, linguistics, Middle East and Islamic studies, philosophy, religious studies, Russian and Eurasian studies, Russian studies, and writing and rhetoric.

Convocation speaker Ali Reza Manouchehri, BA Philosophy ’99, stressed the importance of the humanities in facing real world dilemmas. He related his personal experience living through the Islamic revolution in Iran, a historical event that happened when he was five years old, and building a business that has successfully grown, even through the region’s dot-com bubble, the attacks of September 11, 2001, real estate fluctuations, and the 2007 recession. By leveraging imagination and curiosity, he explained, we can bring the humanistic skills of creativity and big-picture awareness to life. He closed by quoting author and professor Randy Pausch, who described the “brick walls” in life as challenges to be welcomed, rather than being obstacles to be avoided.

The morning of May 13 brought the convocation ceremony for the social sciences, honoring students who had earned degrees in anthropology, economics, neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and criminology, law and society. Speaker Alex Nowrasteh, BA Economics ’06, spoke to the graduates about the value of a Mason degree and described his own unlikely path from his home in California to Mason: by chance, he heard a radio broadcast featuring Professor Walter Williams, of Mason’s economics department, and decided that George Mason University and Masonomics were in his future. He praised the university for its commitment to the diversity of thought. And he offered the graduates some advice.

“Everyone wants to change the world,” he said, “but no one wants to help Mom do the dishes.” He urged the graduates to “do the cheap and easy thing first” in preparation for larger challenges, and to always offer a helping hand.

Deborah Boehm-Davis, dean of the college, congratulated each set of graduates on their choice to devote their studies to life-long learning, and urged them to maintain their ties to the college and to the university through Mason’s network of alumni. “You have come a long way, Patriots,” she said. “We eagerly anticipate where your path goes from here.”