First Lady Michelle Obama will be the keynote speaker at George Washington University Commencement on Sunday, May 16 on the National Mall. The University community matched Mrs. Obama’s 100,000 service hour challenge set forth at the beginning of this year.
A. James Clark, a business executive for one of the United States’ largest construction companies and Dave Brubeck, a renowned pianist and composer, will join First Lady Michelle Obama in receiving honorary degrees this spring during Commencement Weekend, a University spokeswoman said Wednesday. University President Steven Knapp said he believes each of the recipients will inspire graduates.
“All three of these distinguished individuals exemplify the University’s ideals of achievement, leadership and service,” Knapp said in a news release.
“Congratulations to The George Washington University on meeting the 100,000-hour service challenge,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “GW has demonstrated an amazing and ongoing commitment to public service. I look forward to addressing graduates on May 16. You’ve earned it!”
Michelle Obama will be the third First Lady in the history of the University to speak at GW’s Commencement and will address a crowd of approximately 25,000.
Over the last seven months, more than 3,800 GW students, faculty, staff and members of the Board of Trustees have tracked their time as they have helped many individuals through various community service projects throughout the Washington, D.C. area and beyond.
“When we received the challenge from the First Lady, we knew there was no question that George Washington University students, faculty and staff would rise to that very exciting opportunity. But we had no idea we would reach the goal so far in advance of the May 1st deadline,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “Thanks to Mrs. Obama, service became the focus of school spirit for the entire academic year, pulling together the entire university community in a unique way.”
Students, faculty and staff completed a variety of service projects, including painting Habitat for Humanity homes with the First Lady in September; giving a make-over to a Washington, D.C. high school on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; and spent winter and spring breaks to rebuild homes in New Orleans, comfort the sick in Ecuador, and provide educational assistance to Sudanese refugees in Nashville, just to name a few. Other students and members of faculty, staff and Board of Trustees donated their time on such activities as tackling rural and urban poverty, working with a local Brownie Troop and organizing a walk-a-thon to raise funds for the homeless.
“I am extremely proud of our student body and the rest of the GW community for their contributions towards meeting Mrs. Obama’s service challenge,” said GW Student Association President Julie Bindelglass. “As a representative of GW students, I know that many of us have committed ourselves to making public service part of our daily lives. We are thrilled to host the First Lady at our Commencement!”
While the GW community has completed the challenge, students, staff and faculty will continue participating in various service activities. Community service hours will be collected until the official service challenge deadline, May 1, 2010. The total hours achieved during the service challenge will be announced at the commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 16.
(Photos: GW senior Shakir Cannon-Moye and Student Association president Julie Bindelglass joined Mrs. Obama at a Habitat for Humanity
community service project on September 11, 2009)
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