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SIT Awards Degrees To Sustainable Development Grads

SIT Graduate Joe Sumo: Change-maker and Global Citizen

The School for International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute held a commencement ceremony for graduates of the Master of Arts in Sustainable Development Program on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC.

As the crowd grew and the church pews filled, attendees were met with the joyful sounds of African drumming leading into the eventual graduating class processional.

The ceremony featured opening remarks by the Academic Director of the DC Center, Dr. Deborah Robinson, who introduced the President of SIT, Dr. Sophia Howlett. 

Acknowledging the politically charged environment and riots occurring simultaneously in Charlottesville, VA, Dr. Howlett encouraged the graduates to be the next generation of SIT changemakers. “It has been a rough week in terms of what is going on in our world,” said Dr. Howlett, “We are in a battle for doing [what is] right, hopefully you have the skills and tools to fight that battle.”

The student speaker, Rowa Kodi, shared how administering a clinical exam to a survivor of sexual assault in her native country of Sudan led to her desire to help more women. Following heartfelt shout-outs to her cohorts, Kodi thanked student and faculty members for helping her overcome the challenges of adapting to American culture and successfully complete her academic studies at SIT.

The keynote speaker was anti-genocide activist and Founder of Action Map, Mark Hanis. While attending college, Hanis became inspired to campaign against genocide in Darfur. After discussing his background as the grandson of Holocaust survivors and his unique path to social entrepreneurship, Hanis encouraged SIT graduates to do their part to end human suffering and “never be a bystander to social injustice.”

As the programs 22 graduates were called up one by one to accept their diplomas, the church came alive with the laughter, cheers, chants and yodels of family members and friends. Some graduates were fortunate to celebrate this proud moment with loved ones who travelled from afar.

Maud Chimphonda Gausi, the mother of graduate Irene Mtekateka, journeyed nearly 8,000 miles from Malawi to attend the ceremony. Excited to be on hand to witness her daughter’s achievement, she expressed her affinity for SIT. “I was impressed by the [Sustainable Development] Program because it relates to what is happening in the world,” said Gausi, “I believe Irene will take what she has learned here and really help our community back home.”

The Master of Arts in Sustainable Development Program is designed for students interested in the fields of sustainable development, international development, international aid, advocacy, community development and international relations. Students gain real-world experience while working with international organizations and development professionals. This accredited graduate program is offered at the Brattleboro, VT and the Washington, DC centers.

Pact, an international nonprofit that serves impoverished communities, was honored as the Outstanding Practicum Partner during the ceremony. Pact is one of the organizations where students can complete a supervised professional practicum under SIT’s experiential learning model and hosts up to two students annually. Students are required to complete a practicum to fulfill graduation requirements.

Following the ceremony, graduate Grace Longwe expressed her gratitude for her education at SIT. “I appreciated the experiential learning model and all of the support I received from the faculty,” said Longwe.

Saturday marked SIT’s sixth graduating class from the DC Center’s Sustainable Development Program.

To learn more about SIT’s Master of Arts in Sustainable Development Programs, click here.