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IWP celebrates Commencement for the Class of 2024 and honors Owen Smith

Class of 2024 with Faculty and Trustees
Photo by Aesthetic Images Photography

On Saturday, May 11, 2024, the IWP community, including the graduates, along with trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, families, and friends gathered to celebrate the Commencement of the Class of 2024 and to honor the late Chairman of our Board of Trustees, Owen Smith, at the Fairmont in Washington, D.C.

After Professor of Economics Anne Bradley gave a welcome speech, the National Anthem was sung by Ivan Esparza (IWP Class of 2020), followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Dr. Bradley, and the invocation, led by IWP Executive Vice President Captain Chris Glass.

Capt. Glass then introduced IWP President Amb. Aldona Woś. Amb. Woś gave remarks to the graduating class and the IWP community, highlighting the Institute’s mission and the graduates’ critical role in making the world better, safer, and more harmonious. Amb. Woś also called the graduates to stand together to defend the values of freedom and democracy, honoring “not only their academic achievements – but their noble mission to serve a cause greater than themselves.”

Amb. Woś then introduced IWP Chancellor Dr. John Lenczowski to honor the late Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Owen Smith, who passed a little over a year ago, and was described as “a model of strength of character and servant leadership.” His hard work allowed the Institute to begin its journey, and his legacy will continue to inspire the IWP community for years to come.

Owen Smith’s wife, Bernadette Casey Smith, was present at the ceremony to accept his honorary degree – a Doctorate of Laws, Honoris Causa and shared a few remarks.

Amb. Woś then introduced the keynote speaker, Mr. Benjamin Hall, a decorated international and war correspondent based in London who currently works for Fox News. He suffered severe injuries while covering the war in Ukraine, and his story of survival and rescue is detailed in his book: Saved: A War Reporter’s Mission to Make It Home. Copies of Saved were gifted to all graduates, courtesy of The Fund for American Studies.

Benjamin Hall speaking at IWP Commencement 2024
Benjamin Hall speaking at IWP Commencement 2024. Photo by Aesthetic Images Photography

The IWP Class of 2024 Valedictorian Margaret Rymer and Salutatorian Taylor Robert Weinsz were recognized as having the highest academic honors in their graduating class. Valedictorian Rymer could not be present for the ceremony due to beginning her two-and-a-half-year service in the Peace Corps, serving Belizean communities, and helping develop youth sports in the country.

Salutatorian Weinsz gave remarks to the Class of 2024, congratulating the graduates on their accomplishments, acknowledging the current tumultuous time in America and around the globe, and reminding them to take their education out into the world and “rise to the great challenges of our time, and of the future.”

Graduates received Doctorates of Statecraft and National Security, Master of Arts degrees, and Certificates of Graduate Study.

Members of the graduating class serve in the intelligence community, the military, the Peace Corps, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the NGO sector, and the private sector.

Jared M., Vice President of the IWP Alumni Board, welcomed the new graduates to the alumni community and encouraged them to remain involved with the school.

At the end of the ceremony, the graduates stood and were recognized by the whole community.

The event concluded with a performance by the U.S. Army Brass Quintet, which played “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “God Bless America.” The ceremony was followed by a reception in the Fairmont’s Colonnade Room and courtyard.

Congratulations to the Class of 2024!

IWP Commencement 2024