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Celebrating the accomplishments of our fellow Patriots

My favorite part of the year is coming up, and plans are underway for our upcoming commencement and the College of Science Degree Celebration, to be held on May 18 and 19 respectively. This is a time when we pause to take stock on the achievements of a long journey that started when each one of our graduates came to Mason to pursue a degree, an education, and many times a dream.

Over the past week, our university community has been discussing the selection of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin as our spring commencement speaker when we honor our class of 2023. As Virginia’s largest public research university, Mason invites society’s leaders of the day to speak at our commencements, and debate about their selection is bound to occur at all levels within a university whose motto is Freedom and Learning. I greatly appreciate those of you who have taken time to share your thoughts with me on this issue.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to see it, I am including President Washington’s recent message to the university community on this matter.

President Washington and I both arrived at Mason in 2020, just as our world began to address the pandemic, an unfathomable disruption to learning as we knew it. This class of graduating science scholars have aptly navigated through adversity and will leave us to go into a world filled with challenging problems and individuals who may not always share the same points of view. Based on the interactions I’ve had over the past few years, and including this particular situation, I am ever confident that our Patriots are bold, determined, and prepared to face what will come our way, all while considering our appreciation for both shared thoughts and differences.

To our College of Science graduates: the world you will face as you venture into the next stage of your life, whether it is further education, the workplace or another path, will be filled with conflicts of various natures: personal and professional. Each of these conflicts offers an opportunity to engage and solve whatever problem is at hand, improving your own condition and making the world a better place in the process. That is what, in my view, it means to be a Patriot: embrace conflicts as opportunities, take in every challenge your life ahead throws at you and make the world a better place by engaging with others. That will mean being able to work across differences and finding a path forward not in spite of these differences, but because of them.

Solving the big problems we all have ahead will take that Patriot spirit that I know you have, because that is what Mason Science is all about. I look forward to learning about and celebrating your accomplishments, which I am sure will continue after this year’s commencement.

Visit the dean's blog for more insights from Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm.