Other than George Washington, George Washington Carver, Washington Irving, or Martha Washington, who’d be the best Washington to give the commencement address to the Class of ‘13 at George Washington University? Kerry Washington, of course, who is not only a GW alum, but also plays a D.C. insider on television.
Washington addressed a gathering of graduates about to enter their new, adult lives of crushing student debt, aimless ambition, and graduate school flirtations by telling them all about how successful she’s become since she was cast as a frog her junior year at GW. She graduated in 1998, the same year that the late Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela. Coincidence? Olivia Pope would say, “Fuck no,” but, since life is not an addictive television drama, we can happily coast along in the belief that Kerry Washington’s graduation from George Washington University had nothing — even in the butterfly wing-flapping sense — at all to do with Hugo Chávez being elected President. Or with the Yankees sweeping the Padres in the World Series. Or with Armageddon being produced.
The speech was full of the usual advice — believe in yourself, follow your dreams, pay off your credit cards on time, etc. — but full of the endearing sort of self deprecation Olivia Pope would never indulge in. At one point, Washington joked that the graduates must have been dismayed that they were celebrating their successful completion of the undergrad gauntlet “with that lady who is having an affair with the president on that television show.”
Meanwhile, at Morehouse, a President who is not Fitzgerald Grant gave a very different commencement address.