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Final George Washington University Commencement Line-Up Announced

Actor and Alumna Kerry Washington to Headline Weekend Celebration
May 06, 2013

202-994-6466; [email protected]
Michelle Sherrard
202-994-1423; [email protected]


WASHINGTON – Actor Kerry Washington, B.A. ’98; international education advocate Harriet Mayor Fulbright, M.F.A. ’75;  and 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, M.P.A. ’86, will address graduates at George Washington University’s Commencement on the National Mall Sunday, May 19.

Ms. Washington will deliver the keynote address to nearly 25,000 George Washington University graduates and guests. She, along with fellow alumni Ms. Fulbright and Adm. Allen, will receive honorary doctorate degrees.

Ms. Washington graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from GW and formerly served as a member of the GW Board of Trustees. In 2004, Ms. Washington earned the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her performance in “Ray.” She also received NAACP Image Award nominations for her performances in the 2006 film “The Last King of Scotland” and the 2010 film “Night Catches Us.” Her performance in the 2008 film “Lakeview Terrace” earned her a Best Actress nomination at the BET Awards. Ms. Washington also starred in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.” The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and a Golden Globe for Best Picture.

In 2012, Ms. Washington broke barriers by becoming the first African American woman to a headline a network TV show since the 1974 short-lived series “Get Christie Love.” The ABC drama “Scandal” continues to receive high acclaim from both critics and fans. The show is currently in its second season. Ms. Washington won a NAACP Image Award for her portrayal of Olivia Pope in 2013. The show won a 2013 NAACP Image Award as well.

An activist, Ms. Washington was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She also is an active member of the V-Counsel, an esteemed group of advisors to V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls.

Adm. Allen gained national recognition in 2001 for his leadership of the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area forces following the September 11 attacks. He also helped manage the U.S. response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and served as the Department of Homeland Security’s national incident manager for the Deepwater Horizon Spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Adm. Allen is currently a member of the Trachtenberg School Advisory Board, a fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the director of the Coast Guard Foundation and Partnership for Public Service.

As the former executive director of the Fulbright Association and "unofficial ambassador" of the Fulbright Program, Ms. Fulbright has dedicated her life to the legacy begun by her late husband, Sen. J. William Fulbright, L.L.B. ’34, establishing herself as a preeminent teacher and advocate of education and the arts. Ms. Fulbright served as president of the nonprofit J. William & Harriet Fulbright Center and is the current honorary president of the Harriet Fulbright College, an intensive international education institute based in Arlington, Va. For the past two decades, she has traveled the globe in support of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government's flagship program in international educational exchange, first proposed by Sen. Fulbright.

The Class of 2013 will be represented by graduating senior Alexander Zafran. Mr. Zafran was chosen to deliver a short speech during the ceremony by a panel of judges at the student speaker competition. He competed against nine other students for the honor of addressing his fellow graduates. Mr. Zafran is expected to graduate from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences with a major in classical studies. 

George Washington University’s Commencement activities will take place Tuesday, May 14 - Sunday, May 19. The university-wide Commencement will be held the morning of Sunday, May 19, on the National Mall.

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