Yes, it’s happening. My favorite students (2008 variety) are graduating on Sunday. Just like last year!
At one level, graduation represents the culmination of all the efforts that faculty and staff have put forth on behalf of a group of students. At another level, it means saying goodbye to people we have come to know and like, and to consider as friends. The friendship often continues, but it’s never the same. The ease of contact is gone, and our newly minted alumni will be focused on their new homes, their new jobs, their new lives.
Among this year’s graduates are many students who I first met pre-application. Omar Dia and I talked by phone several times in the year he applied. His pre-Fletcher professional experience made him a typical applicant only in the sense that we have so many atypical applicants. But he is nonetheless highly characteristic of our students, with family links to three continents. Watching him settle into the community, take part in a U.N. internship last summer, and get ready to launch himself in a new career, is the kind of experience that makes Admissions work very satisfying. We haven’t had steady contact while he has been here, but we had a chance to catch up last week when he turned up (quite unexpectedly) with a bouquet of flowers for me. Unnecessary (just doin’ my job), but appreciated!
Our office has been fortunate to have a great staff of students who are both hard-working and fun to be around. We’ll be so sorry to see them move along. (Of course, we would be even sorrier if they couldn’t move along — one of the paradoxes of life.) Our graduating Admissions staff members include N. Rashad Jones who came fresh from Georgetown and, with his Pickering Fellowship, has known all along that his next stop will be with the Department of State. And there’s Giselle Michel, who came to us from the Dominican Republic, but who will be moving to New York, and Corinne Onetto, who came to us from London, where much of her work had been in the art world. I can remember reading all of their applications — sadly rare for me and my limited memory! Not only are Giselle, Corinne, and Rashad talented (and also great at mundane tasks such as data entry), but they helped us out by offering information sessions. You may have met them if you visited on a Monday or Friday.
I met student-staffer Michael-John Myette at an admissions interview. In this case, his appointment wasn’t quite assigned by chance. One evening, I was standing on the sidelines with my son’s teacher and adviser, watching the school’s basketball game. We were chit-chatting about a little of this and a little of that, when I happened to mention that her alma mater, Notre Dame, was well-represented in that year’s applicant pool. Suddenly, she realized that she hadn’t previously made the link between my work and the application to Fletcher of her friend Michael-John. A couple of weeks later, on January 2nd, Michael-John was sitting in my office, sleep-deprived as a result of his trip from Honduras to the U.S. and of the brand-new baby accompanying him, talking about his goals. It has been great to get to know him and his family, and we’re all excited on his behalf that he’ll be returning to Honduras, this time with the CRS International Development Fellowship. Michael-John is happy to have you keep up with his post-Fletcher activities via his blog.
On Monday, we celebrated all of our beloved graduating admissions helpers — student staff, members of the admissions committee, and interviewers. We didn’t do much speechifying, but I hope they left the luncheon with full bellies and the knowledge that their work for us was greatly appreciated.
The fact is that there are more favorites than I could possibly include in one entry — more admissions staffers, interviewees, applicants whose applications interested me, Admissions Committee student members, and people who just made their mark on the school. But I’ll describe only one more: my last favorite is Corey O’Hara, who I also met in an admissions interview. Talk about atypical applicants! Corey certainly had the smarts. But his work, however it drew on his undergraduate education, didn’t provide him with a clear path to Fletcher. What it gave him, though, was exposure. Working with delegations of Italian officials as a contract interpreter for the State Department convinced him that he wanted to stop translating and start making policy. For many people, that leap would be impossible to make. But armed with the knowledge gained through joint-degree study at both Fletcher and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, off he goes to do just that. But before he goes, he has been selected by graduating students to give one of the two student speeches at graduation.
It’s a bittersweet time for Fletcher staff — for all of us who benefit from the students and all they bring to our community. Congratulations, graduates! We’ll miss you!
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