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Celebrating the Class of 2020

May 20, 2020

Distinguished Commencement Speaker:
Fiona Hill, Senior Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe, Foreign Policy Program, The Brookings Institution

The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) held its Commencement Ceremony honoring the hard work, perseverance, and accomplishments of the Class of 2020 on May 20. Although the coronavirus pandemic prohibited faculty, staff, friends, and family of the Class of 2020 from gathering in-person, hundreds of viewers joined the virtual celebration.   

Dean Eliot A. Cohen commended the graduates for their wide-ranging scholarly and professional accomplishments and for demonstrating the adaptability to learn virtually while the coronavirus pandemic disrupted much of the spring semester. He thanked the school’s faculty and staff for pulling together in challenging circumstances to convert an enormous amount of teaching and services to virtual formats in a very short time.  
 
The commencement address was delivered by Fiona Hill, senior fellow of The Brookings Institution and former National Security Council expert. Hill noted the historic significance of graduates who will become the post-COVID-19 generation: "All your expectations are on a different trajectory, but you will rebuild and re-forge international ties,” just as previous classes of Johns Hopkins SAIS graduates took on rebuilding the international order following World War II, the Cold War, the conflicts of terrorism, and economic volatility. 
 
Annual awards were presented recognizing the outstanding achievements of students and faculty members. The Founders Award was presented to Todd A. Fisher '91, chairman of the school's Board of Advisors. The Dean's Award for Exemplary Service was received by Pratima Enfield, executive director of Online and Distance Learning. 
 
Student Government President Shamaila Ashraf was proud to recognize that having started her studies wondering if she belonged in such an impressive group, she and fellow students had earned the ability to shape the future. Graduate Jonathan Pearl delivered the student address noting he cherished the friendships he had made with faculty members and classmates who will become future leaders in government, consulting, development, finance, and international relations. 
 
Video greetings from SAIS Europe Director Michael Plummer, American Co-director of The Hopkins-Nanjing Center Adam Webb, and faculty members shared in the celebration and emphasized that the skills of the Class of 2020 will be needed in the world now more than ever before.  
 
SAIS Europe will celebrate graduates of the Class of 2020 with a ceremony on May 23 and The Hopkins-Nanjing Center will hold its graduation ceremony on June 12.