Celebration written in white script with the Elliott School logo in the bottom left hand corner and a gold graduation cap tassel that says ‘2024’ on the right.

Save the Date:

The Elliott School of International Affairs

2024 Commencement Celebration


ESIA Commencement Celebration

Friday, May 17, 2024

12:00-2:00 pm
Charles E. Smith Center

Each graduate will receive 5 guest tickets.

GW Commencement on the National Mall - Sunday, May 19, 2024


Watch Online


Stay tuned for the live streamed celebration! The ceremony will begin at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, May 17th. Please press play at that time to begin watching the live celebration.  




2024 graduation celebration on May 17th

Elliott School of International Affairs
Celebration Program

Download the 2024 Elliott School of International Affairs Celebration program to view digitally.

Download the program (PDF)





Our Speakers

Dr. Rajiv J. Shah headshot

Dr. Rajiv J. Shah

President of The Rockefeller Foundation
Keynote Address

Waiki Law headshot

Waiki Law

Master’s of Arts, International Affairs
Student Speaker

Dr. Rajiv J. Shah Biography

Dr. Shah serves as President of The Rockefeller Foundation, a global institution with a mission to promote the well-being of humanity around the world. The Foundation applies data, science, and innovation to improve health for women and children, create nutritious and sustainable food systems, end energy poverty for more than a billion people worldwide, and enable meaningful economic mobility in the United States and around the world.

In 2009, he was appointed USAID Administrator by President Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Dr. Shah reshaped the $20 billion agency’s operations in more than 70 countries around the world by elevating the role of innovation, creating high-impact public-private partnerships, and focusing U.S. investments to deliver stronger results. Shah secured bipartisan support that included the passage of two significant laws – the Global Food Security Act and the Electrify Africa Act. He led the U.S. response to the Haiti earthquake and the West African Ebola pandemic, served on the National Security Council, and elevated the role of development as part of our nation’s foreign policy. Prior to his appointment at USAID, Shah served as Chief Scientist and Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics at the United States Department of Agriculture where he created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

In October 2023, Dr. Shah published Big Bets: How Large-Scale Change Really Happens with Simon & Schuster’s Simon Element imprint. In the book, Dr. Shah shares a dynamic new model for realizing transformative change, inspired by his own work and that of The Foundation on some of the biggest humanitarian efforts of the 21st century.

Shah founded Latitude Capital, a private equity firm focused on power and infrastructure projects in Africa and Asia and served as a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at Georgetown University. Previously, he served at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he created the International Financing Facility for Immunization which helped reshape the global vaccine industry and save millions of lives.

Raised outside of Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Shah is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Wharton School of Business. He has received several honorary degrees, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, and the U.S. Global Leadership Award. He is married to Shivam Mallick Shah and they have three children.

Waiki Law's Biography

Originally from Hong Kong, Waiki Law came to the US as an international student. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and business from Penn State, she embarked on a journalism career in New York City and Los Angeles, where she covered crime, immigration, and socio-economic issues, including exposing cases of racial harassment and abuse against Asian Americans in the military.

Her advocacy extended beyond reporting as she pushed for the Service Member Anti-Hazing Act in Congress, subsequently signed into law by President Obama.

Grateful for the opportunities afforded to her, Waiki chose to serve by joining the US Army and was deployed to Afghanistan amidst the final stages of US withdrawal to evacuate Afghan allies. 

Driven by the belief that some world events are too big to ignore, she pursued graduate studies in International Affairs and remains steadfast in making an impact in the face of global challenges.




Graduation Checklist

Apply to Graduate

Spring 2024 graduates must submit a Graduation Application in GWeb by March 18, 2024.

Summer graduates, who plan to attend the May commencement ceremony, must apply for graduation after registering for summer 2024 courses no later than April 1.

Commencement Registration
Deadline: April 22  11:59 p.m. ET

You should have received an email with the subject line “Register for Commencement Week,” which will prompt you to create a password before starting registration. You must register with the GW email address that received the message; do not use your personal email address to register. You will claim tickets for your guests during registration.


During registration, please provide a phonetic spelling and recorded audio version of your name.  A vocalist will use that information to dub an audio file of your name that will be played at the Elliott School celebration as you cross the stage. Graduating students must apply to graduate and complete the mandatory graduation survey before registering for Commencement Week events. Please wait 24 hours after completing the graduation survey before attempting to register for Commencement Week events. Be sure to review the Commencement Week Schedule and confer with your guests about which events you wish to attend. This will help make the registration process much smoother.

Register for Commencement


If you have questions about the registration process, refer to the Frequently Asked Questions or contact [email protected].

Regalia Information

Students are required to wear academic dress (cap and gown) to participate in commencement ceremonies. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If I am finishing my degree in the summer, can I participate in commencement?

Yes, just apply for summer graduation in GWeb by April 1, after you register for summer courses, to ensure you are included in the commencement program.

If I am a fall 2023 graduate, can I participate in commencement?

Yes, all fall 2023 graduates are eligible to participate and will be included in communications.

What if I miss the March 18 (or April 1 for summer) application deadlines in GWeb?

You can still apply for graduation in GWeb, but inclusion in the celebration program cannot be guaranteed due to publishing deadlines. 

What if I didn’t receive a confirmation after applying to graduate?

You can check DegreeMAP to confirm that the application is on file.

If an application is on file for you, then you will see the words "Sought-Applied to Graduate" or "Applied Late Degree Clearance" in the "Graduation Application" field on your DegreeMAP audit. This is located near the top, in the same section as your name, GWID, Major, etc.

Does the Elliott School provide graduation cords or stoles?

Cords are handled by each organization. If you are involved in a group that you know or think might provide cords or stoles for graduation, we encourage you to contact that organization. If you are an Elliott School Dean's Scholar, you will be contacted about graduation cords for that program. Otherwise, there are no cords associated with Elliott School degree programs and Elliott does not provide cords or stoles for Latin Honors.

Are there two ceremonies for graduation? Which should I attend?

Yes, there is an Elliott School ceremony on May 17 AND a GW-wide commencement ceremony on May 19. You can attend both and the content will be different at each event! At the Elliott School ceremony, each graduating student will be recognized individually and cross the stage.

Please also refer to the University Commencement site for additional Frequently Asked Questions and answers.


GW is committed to providing universal access to all of our events. Please see the information regarding Smith Center and National Mall accessibility on the University Commencement website.


Contact us at [email protected].




View Past Celebrations

Contact us at [email protected] with questions. 


commencement footer


Hail Alma Mater
To thy spirit guiding,
Knowledge thy closest friend
In its strength abiding,
Pledge we fidelity
Ne'er its place resigning,
Hail thee George Washington!