As part of their multi-day commencement activities, Georgetown University hosted its annual “Social Justice Send-Off” ceremony on Friday, May 21. The ceremony gave special recognition to nearly 100 Georgetown seniors who had been actively involved in social justice work (including service, research and academics) during their years at Georgetown. Many of the graduates recognized for their work are going on to pursue careers in the social justice and public service realms around the United States and abroad—including China, India and South Korea. Several of the graduates will be working with Jesuit Volunteer Corps and organizations like Catholic Charities.
The keynote speaker for this year’s program was Hawah Kasat, co-founder and executive director of One Common Unity, a non-profit organization that supports peace education and building a non-violent culture through music and art. Kasat framed his remarks around four lessons that he has used as a personal guide:
Keeping perspective and living each day as if it is the most important in your life;
Taking care of yourself so that you are able to serve others;
Listening to your intuition and having the courage to act on it; and
Not letting the need for perfection stand in the way of taking action.
Scott Fleming, AJCU’s interim Vice President for Federal Relations and former Associate Vice President for Federal Relations at Georgetown, also offered remarks during the ceremony. He reflected on the dramatic growth in student engagement around community and public service in recent years. Fleming himself is a Georgetown alum, who first stepped on campus fifty years ago, at a time when the Vietnam War was never far from students’ minds.
But the late 1960s also saw Georgetown students volunteering through the newly-established Georgetown University Community Action Program, and supporting national efforts to provide relief to Bangladesh (which had recently suffered a civil war) through organizations like OXFAM and the American Friends Service Committee.
Today, Georgetown students volunteer through the University’s Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching & Service and Office of Mission & Ministry, and participate in service-learning through the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access, Center for Student Engagement and the Cawley Career Education Center, all within the Division of Student Affairs. And they learn about the pressing faith and justice issues faced across our country and the world through programs and lectures sponsored by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor.
In his remarks during the ceremony, Fleming said, “At a time when many are concerned about whether our country is at risk of losing our sense of justice and compassion and of doing what we know to be right, I am confident and assured that these graduates will remain ‘life-long Men and Women for Others.’”