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2021 SAIS Europe Commencement

May 22, 2021

On May 22, 2021, SAIS Europe held its commencement ceremony on the Bologna Center Campus in Bologna, Italy. Graduates, current students, faculty, and staff joined the celebration in person in accordance with local health guidelines or attended virtually.

This year’s ceremony was unique because SAIS Europe graduates were awarded their degrees alongside other SAIS graduates who lived and studied in Bologna during the academic year while attending virtual classes hosted by the Washington DC campus and the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. The graduates who attended the ceremony in person marked the end of a challenging year with smiles and donning their laurel wreaths, which symbolize triumph and are an Italian graduation tradition.

Wolf Blitzer, lead political anchor at CNN and anchor of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, provided graduates with inspiring words during his commencement address. The fact that Blitzer is also a SAIS alumnus made his words even more relevant. He spoke about the daily challenge of maintaining the ethics of journalism to present news and not personal opinions. Blitzer also related how his SAIS education benefited him throughout his career and encouraged students to follow their passions. 

Michael G. Plummer, director of SAIS Europe and Eni Professor of International Economics, moderated the event and gave a moving speech to the newly minted alumni about the challenges they have faced and overcome. He also reiterated the relevance of a SAIS education in the context of the pandemic, in that policymakers with SAIS degrees possess the strong, multidisciplinary analytical tools necessary to deal with making difficult decisions during crises. Plummer welcomed the graduates into the robust network of Bolognesi and made a few jokes about economics. 

During the ceremony, Aspen Brooks '22, Zoe Strauss '21, Arletys Gomez '21, and Giorgio Severi '21 were recognized as recipients of the Grove Haines Award, named in honor of the Bologna Center founder and long-time director to commemorate his commitment to graduate-level education in international affairs and to honor the best research produced by SAIS Europe students. Michael Hall '21 received recognition as the Excellence in Gender Research Prize winner for his research, which relates to how gender shapes international affairs and policies. In addition, Plummer presented Sir Michael Leigh, Academic Director of the Master of Arts in European Public Policy and Senior Adjunct Professor of European Studies, the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award for his ability to stimulate and motivate students while teaching virtually over the past year. 

Gabrielle Calabro, director of Student Life, gave a special thanks to the members of the SAIS Europe Student Government Association (SGA) who kept the cohort together despite the challenges of the year and introduced SGA President Lorenzo Marchetti '21 for his address. Following Marchetti’s remarks, in person and virtual attendees were treated to a video of students sharing their experiences in Bologna during the pandemic.

Photo Album

SAIS Europe Commencement 2021