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Public Policy celebrates Commencement 2022

classDespite record hot temperatures, Public Policy faculty and students enjoyed a fantastic diploma ceremony last month as the program graduated 54 students during Commencement Weekend. 

Prof. Paul Manna, Director of Public Policy, began the ceremony by offering thanks to many individuals and groups: Public Policy faculty and staff; alumni and program supporters; parents, friends and family members of the graduates; and finally to the graduates themselves for the energy and open minds they brought to their studies.

groupManna also presented two awards to honor the memory and legacy of two of Public Policy’s former students. Madison Humphries was this year’s recipient of the Megan Owen Award as the most outstanding female B.A. graduate in Public Policy who is from Virginia. This prize honors the memory of Megan Owen, an outstanding Public Policy graduate who passed away at a young age, not long after she had begun her career in law and policy. In addition, current Master’s in Public Policy student Cameron Bruce was recognized as the winner of the Brenna Jean Vorhis Award, which will help support him during his summer internship in environmental policy. The award goes to honor Brenna, who passed away at a young age while she was a Public Policy graduate student several years ago. It supports current students who take internships in her fields of interest. 

All those in attendance also heard from three speakers. 

David Oxenford and Delharty Manson, IIIDelharty Manson, III, a B.A. recipient, was the student speaker. He reflected on the tremendous challenges that his classmates had overcome to reach this point, all the while contributing to improving life on campus and the world around them. He urged all the graduates to “go out and share your passion and your voice” to continue those good works in other communities beyond William & Mary. 

Devin Braun, President of the Public Policy Alumni Association (B.A. Government ’12; Master’s in Public Policy ’13), welcomed the graduates into the alumni ranks. He echoed a common theme ofDevin Braun the other speakers as well: the entire W&M Public Policy community, from faculty to staff to alums will be standing beside today’s graduates to support them as they move onto their next adventure. He hoped that the graduates would continue to stay in touch so that the bonds among the program and its alumni remain strong. 

The featured commencement speaker for the day was David Oxenford, President of the Public Policy Board of Advisors and partner at the Washington, DC law firm of Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer. He offered perspectives to parents and family members and also the graduates. His overall message to all was that preparing for life by studying Public Policy opens virtually unlimited doors, especially for graduates interested in devoting their lives to serving their broader communities, be they in local, state, national, or international arenas. Essentially all compelling issues of our age, Oxenford noted, either intersect with or suggest potential connections to current policy or policy reforms. As newly minted Public Policy graduates, he concluded, graduates should not hesitate to engage their ideas with others, even those with more policy experience, because difficult challenges require creative thinking and sometimes new approaches for breakthroughs to occur. 

facultyIn all, the Public Policy team offers warm congratulations to all of our Class of 2022 graduates! We look forward to staying in touch and learning how their future adventures unfold.