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This Thursday, MMD president, Michael Marshall, appeared as the guest speaker for the University of the District of Columbia’s opening convocation, which celebrated the start of the new academic season.
Minutes before the start of the ceremony, UDC students, faculty and members of the administration streamed into the seats of the school’s auditorium. As the lights dimmed and the event began, the DC Department of Corrections Honor Guard performed the presentation of colors, which was then followed by the UDC Chorale’s moving rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
After introductory remarks by UDC President Ronald Mason, Jr., Susan Kliman, Chair of the Department of Architecture and Urban Sustainability, introduced Michael. She shared with the crowd her admiration for the bond that Michael shares with the university.
Having graduated from UDC with an Associates degree when it was a 2-year institution, Michael has enjoyed a long-lasting relationship with the institution, a connection that led to him to being asked to design the university’s student center in 2016.
“He has really given back to the department, and I don’t know what we would do without him,” she said.
Michael began his talk by emphasizing his background as a first-generation college educated professional and acknowledging the opportunities afforded to him at UDC. The skills he learned at UDC propelled him to later earn a bachelor’s degree at the Catholic University of America and a master’s degree in architecture from Yale University.
“Personally and professionally, for me, UDC has been a great support system and foundation for my academic career and for my career as an architect,” Michael said.
Michael then talked to the students directly, providing heartfelt words of inspiration. He encouraged them to embrace whatever opportunities that come their way and not to fear change when they must face it. His words also urged listeners to become leaders and utilize the wealth of information previous generations did not have.
“To be competitive in your generation, you will have to continue to learn and evolve throughout your lives,” Michael told the students. “You have the tools for this, literally in your pocket.”
Michael concluded by reminding the audience to work hard, play hard and give back to the community. After thanking the crowd for the opportunity to speak, Michael was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
Since his relationship with UDC began in the 1970s, Michael has respected the effort the university has always made to provide opportunities for success for those eager to learn in the nation’s capital. Today’s event is an important reminder that no matter what direction you head in life, it is always important to remember your roots.
“A university is only as strong as its alumni base,” Michael said. “You are now a part of this foundation, and don’t forget it. Stay involved.”