Speeches & Writings

2020 McDonnell International Scholars Recognition Ceremony

Greetings from campus, and thanks for inviting me to join you as you celebrate another year as McDonnell International Scholars. I’m sorry I’m unable to attend in person, though I still wanted the chance to share my congratulations and best wishes.

First, congratulations on finishing up this unprecedented spring semester with your heads held high.  This was no small feat, and I know many of you are feeling uncertainty during this time.  Please know how much we’ve missed you on campus, how much we’ve been thinking about you, and how truly grateful we are for your acts of leadership and service.  

Speaking of gratitude, I also want to share how incredibly grateful I am for you and for all our international students. In the midst of this crisis, I’ve been keenly aware of the ways in which some of the local, national, and international politics and rhetoric might have a consequential impact on you and our international community. To that end, I want to remind you that, as a Washington University community, we strive to rise above these messages and do our best to ensure all people feel welcome, valued, and included. This is such an important component of our mission and ethos. As always, we want you  — and all members of our international community — to know how much we value your presence, your talents and perspectives, and the contributions you make in service of the greater good. 

Despite all the challenges resulting from the pandemic and politics, at Washington University we will continue to foster global engagement and welcome international students like you. In fact, your cohort of McDonnell Scholars exemplifies precisely why we make such a commitment to international students. During your time on campus, you brought extraordinary talent, intellect, and energy from across the globe to Washington University in St. Louis. You contributed to our diverse culture and world view. You conducted important research. And you participated in community outreach. As graduates, you will now spread across the globe to use the knowledge you gained at WashU to improve lives and solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges through your work in science, business, government, and social service. We are proud you are joining a large number of international alumni who are making these types of contributions to the world every day.

Congratulations, once again, on this important milestone.  Once again, I’m grateful and honored that you represent Washington University with your gifts and talents, and I can’t wait to see where your journey takes you next. 

Thank you.