Kaya Henderson Honorary Degree Ceremony

Kaya Henderson Honorary Degree Ceremony


(gently chiming bell) (“Pomp and Circumstance”) (audience cheers and applauds) – Please be seated. President DeGioia, Chancellor Henderson, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen. Good morning and welcome
to Georgetown University. We have assembled here this morning to confer upon Ms. Kaya Henderson, our highest honor, the degree of Doctor of
Humane Letters honoris causa. Georgetown University is in turn, honored by her acceptance of this degree. Please stand now for the singing of Veni, Creator Spiritus, performed by the Georgetown
University Chamber Singers, under the direction of
Frederick Binkholder, visiting Assistant Professor of Music, and the Department of Performing Arts, and for the invocation
which will be offered by Reverend Bryant Oskvig, Protestant Chaplaincy Director. (“Veni Creator Spiritus”) – O Holy God, open to us, light for our darkness, courage for our fears, hope for our despairs. O loving God, open to us, wisdom for our confusions, forgiveness for our sins, love for our hate. O God of peace, open to us, peace for our turmoil, joy for our sorrow, strength for our weakness. O generous God, open our hearts to receive all of your gifts. Amen. – Please be seated. (audience laughs) Our founder, Archbishop John Carroll, took legal possession of the land on this hilltop in 1789, and we mark that as our founding date. Our first student, the future North Carolina Congressman William Gaston, arrived in 1791. And our first bachelors
degrees were awarded in 1817. The Jesuits who founded us, labored at that moment under a cloud of papal suspicion and suppression, not fully removed until Pope Pius XII restored the order in 1814. That year 1814, also saw the British
invasion of Washington, as part of the so-called war of 1812. And for a time, the
college lived in great fear that it would be overrun. We think that the copy of the Declaration of Independence that John Hancock signed, lay hidden for a time then in Old North, a building right us. But we escaped and thrived. It was in 1815, that with enrollments
passing the 100 mark, the College’s President,
Father John Grassi, of the Society of Jesus, asked, then, Congressman Gaston to present a petition
for a federal charter, a document that still sanctions the academic business we do here. Accordingly, it is our custom to initiate academic ceremonies with a reading of that charter from the year 1815. To discharge that office, I have the honor to introduce Mr. Edward M. Quinn,
Secretary of the University. – An act concerning the
College of Georgetown in the District of Columbia. Be it enacted by the Senate
and House of Representatives of the United States of
America in Congress assembled, That it shall and may be lawful for such persons as now are, or from time to time may be, the President and Directors of the College of Georgetown, within the District of Columbia, to admit any of the students belonging to said College, or other person meriting
academical honors, to any degree in the faculties, arts, sciences, and liberal professions, to which persons are usually admitted in other Colleges and Universities of the United States; and to issue in an appropriate form the diplomas or certificates which may be requisite to testify to the admission of such degree. Signed, Langdon Cheves, Speaker of the House of Representatives. John Gaillard, President
pro tempore of the Senate. Approved March 1st, 1815, James Madison. – The honorary degree citation will be read by Dr. Bies, Professor in the McDonough
School of Business. – A pioneer in education reform, Kaya Henderson exemplifies what it means to pursue a life in service of others. Her integrity, passion for justice, and ability to bring together communities, has enabled her to impact the lives of thousands of students; and strengthen the foundation for education in cities across the nation. Born in Mt. Vernon, New York, the daughter of a public school educator, she attended a public elementary school and high school, and an all-girls Catholic middle school; learning first-hand the difference of a strong education can
make for young people. A Georgetown University School
of Foreign Service graduate, with an aptitude for policy, and a deep commitment to social justice, she chose to work in education. First, through Teach For America, as a middle school Spanish
teacher in the Bronx. And later, as the National
Director of Admissions for Teach For America, and the Executive Director
for Teach For America in Washington, DC. These experiences endowed Ms. Henderson with an understanding of the significant challenges facing an urban education America and provided her with the platform to design and implement innovations to support excellence in
teaching and learning. At the core of her service is the principle that our education can transformed to serve all students, regardless of socioeconomic status. Recognizing an opportunity to impact teacher recruitment,
support, and performance, she joined the New Teacher Project, where she became Vice President
for Strategic Partnerships. Driven by her commitment
to empower teachers, and to improve teacher quality, she has worked closely with
DC Public Schools since 2001, to develop alternative
certification programs, including the DC Teaching Fellows program; and has contributed to major reports on effective teaching. She has also strengthened the Districts engagement with Teacher Unions, earning a reputation for being
strong and fair in her work, straightforward and
sincere in her leadership. With the opportunity to
make an enduring impact and develop a model school system in our nation’s capital, she joined, then newly appointed, Chancellor DC public
schools, Michelle Rhee, and served as her deputy for four years. Confirmed as Chancellor in 2011, Ms. Henderson has continued to provide the impetus and support for change in our city’s schools, by encouraging collaboration
and cooperation in the pursuit of educational excellence. Determined to insure a
high-quality education and an environment of success for students, teachers, and families, she has championed new
teacher evaluation efforts that have led to significant change; not only in Washington, DC, but also in districts around the country. Throughout her career, she’s exhibited deep commitment, to ensuring that students have access to great schools, are exposed to cutting-edge technology, and have the opportunity
to express themselves through music and the arts. Ms. Henderson represents
the kind of leadership that can transform a classroom, that can invigorate a school district, that can elevate the national conversation on excellence and education. A woman for others, she pursues this work with
an urgency and humility, that drives those around
her to work at their best and for what is best for our
children and for our city. She has given back to our
university in countless ways, as a graduate at the
School of Foreign Service, and the Executive Master’s
in Leadership program, as a member of our Board of Regents, and as a frequent visitor
and guest speaker on campus. For her many achievements
and remarkable efforts to support education in Washington, DC, and throughout the country, Georgetown considers it both
an honor and a privilege to recognize Ms. Henderson
in today’s ceremony, and to confer upon
Kayatanya Katrina Henderson, the degree of Humane
Letters honoris causa. (everyone applauds and cheers) – Let me make this official. By virtue of the authority vested in me, by the Congress of the United States, and by the Board of Directors
of Georgetown University, I officially confer upon Kaya Henderson, the degree of Doctor of
Humane Letters honoris causa. (everyone applauds) – I’m gonna go off my remarks, which I was told not to do. (audience laughs) And welcome the Mayor. Thank you for being here. (audience applauds) The Woodrow Wilson High
School Jazz Ensemble is directed by Paul Phifer, and normally comprises
from 20 to 25 students, ranging from 9th to 12th grade. Jazz Ensemble is considered one of the top musical ensembles at Wilson High School, and maintains a high-quality
performance standard, despite changes in personel every year. The Jazz Ensemble and
Combo performs regularly at community and school events. The jazz program has been afforded music, educational, and
performance opportunities by Herbie Hancock, Kevin
Eubanks, Anthony Wellington, and many other names of note. For the last two or three years, the program has had an
educational partnership with the Thelonious
Monk Institute of Jazz. The Ensemble’s upcoming
performances include the 8th Annual Big Band
Jam, Friday, April 27th, at the Sylven Amphitheater at 3:00 p.m., and the Wilson Spring
Instrumental Musical Concert, Wednesday, May 23rd, at the Woodrow Wilson High School auditorium at 7:00 p.m. We are very pleased to have the Jazz Ensemble with us today, to help us honor Chancellor Henderson. It is my pleasure to present the Woodrow Wilson High
School Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Paul Phifer. They will perform Shades
of Blue by Lennie Niehaus, A Child is Born by Thad Jones, arranged by Mike Carubia, and In Walked Bud by Thelonious Monk, arranged by Craig Vonberg. (everyone applauds) (“Shades of Blue by Lennie Niehaus”) (audience applauds) (“A Child is Born by Thad Jones”) (audience applauds) (“In Walked Bud by Thelonious Monk”) (audience applauds) – Thank you very much
for that wonderful music, it was really spectacular. (everyone applauds) And now I have the honor to present the 48th President of
Georgetown University, John J. DeGioia. (everyone applauds) – Chancellor Henderson, honored guests, members of the Georgetown community: welcome, and I want thank you all for being here with us today on this very special occasion. I especially wish to recognize two of our distinguished guests. First, the Chairman of
our Board of Directors, member of the Georgetown
College Class of 1962, Paul Tagliabue. (everyone applauds) And I, too, would like to welcome the Mayor of this great
city of Washington, the Honorable Vincent Grey. (everyone applauds) And I, too, would like
to express my gratitude to the Woodrow Wilson
High School Jazz Ensemble for their very special performance. Thank you. (everyone applauds) Today, we are grateful
to have the opportunity to honor the excellence of a member of our alumni community, who, since her time as an undergraduate, has exemplified the ideals at the center of Georgetown’s mission and identity: service, passionate leadership, and the determination to change the world for the better. In living out these ideals, Kaya inspires those around her to wake up, as she recently told a
group of our MBA students, “on fire” for the goals
they seek to achieve, and for the impact they hope to make. The piece of the world that
Kaya has chosen to affect is fundamental to the strength, progress, and prosperity of our city, our country, and our interconnected global society. If you ask her why she has been able to achieve success in her own life, Kaya immediately will respond that it’s because she received a good public education. The depth of her commitment
throughout her career to ensuring that all children are given this opportunity is extraordinary. In coming together today,
we honor her persistence, her courage, and her devotion to giving young women
and men in Washington, DC and in cities across the country the chance to discover and to become their very best selves. Yet the path toward education reform, of striving for higher
standards of excellence and more expansive student
success, is complex. It requires a special kind of leader, willing to make numerous
personal sacrifices in service of a greater good. I wish to offer brief reflections on four distinctive qualities that, to me, are characteristic of Kaya’s leadership: her deep sense of purpose; her dedication to the
empowerment of others; her unfailing commitment to the highest standards of excellence; and her ability to connect
on a very human level with those she works with and serves. While each of these
qualities is exceptional, Kaya embodies the combination, and has leveraged this unique strength to benefit children and their families, the District of Columbia, and our broader nation. It’s nearly impossible to speak with Kaya about education without understanding that her work is motivated by a deep sense of personal purpose, and a clear and poignant set of values. Last spring, Kaya was here
on campus for an event hosted by our Woodstock
Theological Center entitled, Faith in the City: Believing
You Can Make a Difference. And during her panel discussion, she reflected on the
importance of a lesson at the heart of her upbringing. From Luke’s Gospel:
“To whom much is given, “much is required.” She described the role of her mother, the first to go to college in her family, who served as a public school teacher and principal for many years, and ensuring that service was
not perceived as a good deed, but rather as a responsibility. Within this context, Kaya developed a deep understanding of the interconnectedness
between being her best self and making a difference
for those around her by giving back to her community. As she eloquently summarized
in her Woodstock talk: “Each of us is on this earth
for a very unique reason. “I have an obligation and a responsibility “to be the best Kaya Henderson I can be, “and so I strive everyday
to be incredibly authentic. “And if I believe that’s
going to make a difference, “I have to believe that every other person “has the capacity to be
the best they can be, “and that is what we are called to do.” Kaya’s understanding of our human calling to be our best selves, and the personal passion
that this belief has fueled, allow her to work with purpose,
authenticity, and humility. It has also enabled her
to help others seek out and live up to their own potential, causing waves of impact far beyond what she alone could create. The idea of empowerment, the second aspect of her
distinctive leadership, is embedded in Kaya’s
fundamental acknowledgement of the good in others. From the time when Kaya
was an undergraduate here at Georgetown, she has made it a priority
to motivate others, empowering her peers, her colleagues, and her community members with the courage and will
to execute difficult tasks in service of meaningful outcomes. We saw this skill on campus, when Kaya was the Vice President of our Georgetown chapter of the NAACP and a leader within numerous
service organizations, and we’ve watched its power unfold through each of her
professional endeavors: whether teaching middle
school Spanish in the Bronx, directing the Washington, DC
office for Teach for America, or developing innovative reform measures through the New Teacher Project. Through her work with DCPS, Kaya’s commitment to collaboration and empowerment only has
become more representative of her leadership. To provide just one example, over the past several months, Kaya has attended dozens
of Town Hall meetings with parents, teachers, and administrators throughout the city, seeking to listen and to understand the priorities and concerns
of those she serves. Her honest and humble
engagement during these meetings is embodied in the hugs that she gives at the beginning of each session, creating a spirit of
open, respectful dialogue and an unspoken acknowledgment that every voice in the room matters. This same quality has characterized many of Kaya’s other initiatives, including the development
of a Principals Cabinet to gain the perspective of
excellent school leaders from across the District, the broad efforts currently underway to design a city-wide
public school curriculum, and now, the five-year plan for DCPS that Kaya announced just this week. Asked what distinguished this new plan from the current five-year plan, Kaya said, “This is not about me. “This is about us. “Before we developed the plan, “we asked people what they wanted to see.” In each of these examples,
a clear theme emerges: Kaya always seeks to work with rather than working alone, acting with a profound awareness that the advancement of others enables the betterment of all. For Kaya, empowerment and excellence are intrinsically linked. It is in part because
of her acknowledgement of this critical connection that Kaya, in turn, demands the highest level of excellence, both of herself and in others. This third aspect of her
leadership is widely felt: Kaya doesn’t insist on
good schools, teachers, and school leaders, but great ones. She does so because the
stakes are extremely high for young women and men in
our city and our country. As Kaya told our MBA students, “We are losing generation
after generation of kids “every year that we are not able to get “the public education system right. “We are the nation’s capital, “and we should have the very best “urban public school system
for the world to see.” Kaya’s passion– (everyone applauds) Kaya’s passion for excellence
informs all that she does. It has helped her to lead the development of new recruitment practices and evaluation standards
for Washington, DC teachers that link teacher performance
with student outcomes, the first system in the country to do so, and to advance a serious revision of teacher compensation scales to reward excellence
and student improvement. Kaya’s work in building
support and understanding at the ground level has been essential, inspiring teachers to
acknowledge the value of these reform measures, known widely here in
the District as IMPACT, and to strive to achieve the highest level of success in their classrooms. The pursuit of excellence also has characterized Kaya’s efforts to advance a redesigned, more well-rounded curriculum
for DCPS students. The curriculum prioritizes
diverse learning experiences including the arts, technology, athletics, community service and
international opportunities, that help students to
cultivate a joy for learning and a broad sense of possibility. Perhaps most importantly, Kaya’s passion for
excellence compelled her to accept the position of DCPS chancellor: a role that she did
not originally consider as part of her personal
or professional plan. Understanding–
(audience laughs) Understanding the necessity
of consistent leadership to the continued improvement
and overall well being of the District’s public
school system and its students, she has risen to this essential challenge. She has made it her priority to strengthen and advance the life chances of children across the city, and to provide a model of public education that cities throughout the world will wish to adopt. This sense of humility, of perseverance, and of doing what’s right
to ensure excellence is one of the very finest examples of public service and leadership in our nation today. And yet, as her colleagues, friends, and even she will tell you, Kaya finds herself just regular, never too busy or too proud
to connect with others on the deepest, human level. And despite her numerous successes, and all that she continues
to do for America, Kaya will be the first
to lighten a difficult or late night meeting with humor; to listen in a way that not
only acknowledges the words, but the emotions; and to go above and beyond
what seems possible, and to celebrate the successes of others. She is a leader who believes that sharing one story
can change the world, no matter whose story it is, and no matter what life
that person has lived. The quality of compassion and empathy adds yet another dimension
to Kaya’s capacity to pursue and promote
true and enduring change. By focusing on purpose, passion,
empowerment, excellence, and most importantly, the success of the
young people she serves, Kaya rises above
contention and controversy to promote one fundamental idea: that nothing but the very best will do. This guiding principle and bold standard inspires those around her, and ensures that Kaya always
will do her very best work. It makes her the leader she is, a leader we are proud to hold as a member of our Georgetown family, and the leader we are
honored to celebrate today. So Kaya, for all you have
contributed to our community, to the District of Columbia, and to the education of young
people here in our city, and across the country, and around the globe, we all here today, we wish to express our deep gratitude. Ladies and gentlemen, with great pride, I now present our newest
Doctor of Humane Letters, Kaya Henderson. (everyone applauds) – Thank you. Thank you. (audience cheers) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Okay. Special, special thanks to
the Wilson Jazz Ensemble, I really appreciate you being here today. This has been an incredible week for me. First we started off with a very positive city council hearing, which is not… Very positive, city council hearings… (audience laughs) It’s usually an oxymoron. But we had a very positive
city council meeting, the same day we rolled
out our five year plan for the District of
Columbia Public Schools, called A Capital Commitment; that I’m very proud of, that we worked very hard to put together, and that is being very well received across the city. And then yesterday, we learned that we got a
4.5 million dollar grant. I know I’m probably not
supposed to announce it but I’m excited about it.
(audience laughs) We got a 4.5 million dollar grant to work on kindergarten
through 3rd grade literacy in six of our toughest schools. (audience applauds) And all my colleagues and
family and friends are in town and we’re gonna dance tonight, right? (audience applauds and cheers) So this has been a tremendous week, and it is capped off
by this awesome honor, which I still don’t exactly understand, why I’m getting, but. President DeGioia, I truly appreciate it. I don’t think you have any idea of how much this means to me, so thank you. (audience applauds)
Thank you. Thank you. Dr. King in his letter from
a Burmingham jail in 1963, had to write my remarks, ’cause I’ll cry the whole way through, said, what has come to
be, my favorite quote. “We are caught in an inescapable
network of mutuality, “tied in a single garment of destiny, “whatever affects one, affects all, “whatever affects one directly,
affects all indirectly.” While we are here to celebrate this tremendous honor
that’s being bestowed on me, I’m here today to celebrate
this network of mutuality. I stand on this stage today, only because of the people
sitting in this room. Each and every one of you, have either directly or indirectly, made an indelible impression on my life, and contributed to making me the person who I am today. This is one great, big thank you card. From me, to you. For all that you’ve done for me. So if you’ll indulge me
for just a few minutes, I wanna express my appreciation to you. The threads in the garment of my destiny. First, I have to thank my family. (sighs) My mother Kathleen, or Taffy, Henderson, and Helen Henderson, my grandmother. They held incredibly
high expectations for me, they made sacrifices for me, they set the example and they molded me into a strong, successful, black woman. My extended family, which
is too many to name, but the Hendersons, the
Wheatons, the Ramseys, the Warners, the Louis’s, the Hills; have nurtured and sustained me, and demonstrated how we
should care for one another. My immediate family, Robert, Robert Jr., Marcus, and Sampson. (audience laughs) That’s my baby. Love me each and every day, even on the days that I’m not so lovable. And I literally couldn’t
do it without them. So, to my entire family,
I love and thank you. I also wanna thank my friends. My friendships are the air that I breath, the food that I eat, they nourish me and they help me grow. I collect friends, (audience laughs) wherever I go. And so I’m blessed to have a wide and varied tribe of people in my life. To the friends that I grew up with, to my friends from church, to my neighbors, to my college buddies, to my Teach For America friends, my New Teacher project friends, my EML friends, the Agitators, the Soleil Sisters, the Old Testament Honey’s, the Calientes. These are not motorcycle gangs. (audience laughs) These are my friends. And to others who I’ve met along the way, I love you and I thank you for all that you’ve done for me. To my colleagues who are engaged in the most important work in the world, the education of our babies, I want to thank you for your sense of possibility, for your commitment, for your dedication, and for your love. To my teachers, my principals, my DCPS colleages, my DC Government colleagues, my Washington Teacher’s Union partners; Uh-huh, they’re in here too! My mayor, who makes my work
possible every single day. To my two deputy mayors, who are my right and my left hand, to our council members
and other city officials, thank you so much for working
hand and hand with me, to deliver on the commitment
to a world-class education for our young people. There are two very special
groups of people here today that I also would like to thank. My teachers are here. My 4th grade teacher,
Mr. Cantone, is here. (audience applauds) My 9th grade math teacher,
Mr. Cuglietto, is here. My 10th grade– (audience applauds) My 10th grade computer science and cheerleading coach,
Ms. Walters, is here. (laughs)
(audience applauds) My Assistant Principal,
Brenda Smith, is here. These and a group of other people. (audience applauds) These are the group of people, who stood before me every single day, they were what I’m trying to achieve here in Washington, DC: a highly effective,
caring, dedicated teacher in every single classroom. So thank you for making the time to come today.
(audience applauds) The other special group of people that are here today, are my mother’s friends. For those of you who don’t know, I lost my mother in 2003, but I feel like I have had one of the best mothering experiences ever; in part, because, it wasn’t
just my mother and I, we had a large group of people around us, not just our family, but what became our family; and these are the other women educators, people that my mother taught with, and led with, and worked with, who were as important to my development as my mother was. And so to Brenda, and
Connie, and Maryland, and Shirley, and George,
who’s no longer with us, to Lottie, to Alice, to Glenda, and to your families, thank you. Because I wouldn’t be
me, if you weren’t you. (clears throat) I am so appreciative, also, to my friends and family here at Georgetown. You have no idea how much of my life has been impacted by my
experience on this hilltop. I only applied to one university. (audience laughs) I mean, I had other applications ready, but I only wanted to come here. And I got an early decision, and so I didn’t have
to apply anywhere else. Thank you Jesus. (audience laughs) But my mind was made up, probably from the time I was a freshman or a sophomore in high school, that I wanted to be a Georgetown Hoya, and I couldn’t have made a better choice. To receive this honor from Georgetown means more to me than you’ll ever know, and so I wanna say special thank you to President DeGioia, to Father Kemp, to Dr. Bies, to Victor, to Ted Leonsis, to the faculty, staff, and students of this great university, and to Paul Tagliabue, (audience laughs) Thank you, thank you. Finally, no amount of thanks is incomplete without acknowledging and thanking my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In whom I live, and
move, and have my being, who allows me to do this work, who compels me to do this work, and who keeps me doing this work. When I was a little girl, every morning, as we got dressed, my grandmother would say: “You know what Kaya? You are somebody.” And I’d have to repeat, “I am somebody.” And if I didn’t say it
loudly and strongly, she’d say, “Say it
again, you are somebody.” And I would say, “I am somebody!”. (audience laughs) It was the 70s. (audience laughs) Then she’d say, “You’re
so bright and smart, “you could be the President
of the United States.” And then we’d end with,
“Black is beautiful.” (audience laughs and applauds) We go on to say our morning prayers, and sing Jesus Loves Me, This I Know. Every single day, I was encouraged and I was affirmed. Every single day, the expectation was set, that despite our humble beginnings, in apartment 4D in the
projects of Mt. Vernon, I would do something great, something world-changing. Every single day, I connected with God, and was reminded of His
infinite love for me. If Helen Henderson could be with us today, she’d be very proud of
the results of her work. Besides being absolutely overwhelmed, and overjoyed that I’m
receiving this honor, she’d be pleased that I am somebody, not just in my own eyes, or hers, but in the eyes of so many others. She’d be excited that
I’m using my talents, to do work that is powerful, important, and world-changing. She’d also be thrilled that
I have met the President of the United States.
(audience laughs) She would be proud, that as an African American
woman from humble beginnings, I’m setting an example
of what we can become. But most of all, she’d be sitting right in the front row, thanking and praising God, for all that He has done in my life, and she would remind me
that Jesus still loves me. Helen Henderson will be 91 next Saturday. (audience applauds) She can’t hear so well anymore, she can’t see much, she can’t travel, which
is why she’s not here, she’s not so mobile anymore, and we don’t talk every day anymore. But every single day, I wake up hearing those words, feeling God’s love, and understanding my responsibility to give others what has been given to me. So thank you all, for this tremendous honor, and I look forward to us
continuing this journey together. Thank you. (audience applauds) (audience cheers) – Thank you Dr. Henderson. It was fabulous. Fabulous! (audience cheers and applauds) Please stand, and join in the singing of the alma mater. And remain standing for the benediction which will be offered by
Reverend Raymond Kemp, Senior Research Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center. The words and music of the alma mater are printed on the back of your program. ♫ Hail, oh Georgetown, Alma Mater ♫ Swift Potomac’s lovely daughter ♫ Ever watching by the water ♫ Smiles on us today ♫ Now her children gather ’round her ♫ Lo, with garlands they have crowned her ♫ Reverent hands and fond enwound her ♫ With the Blue and Gray ♫ Wave her colors ever ♫ Furl her standards never ♫ But raise it high ♫ And proudly cry ♫ May Georgetown live forever ♫ Where Potomac’s tide is streaming ♫ From her spires and steeples beaming ♫ See the grand old banner gleaming ♫ Georgetown’s Blue and Gray – A deep breath, let us bow our heads. Good and gracious God, you challenge and comfort
us with your word, and you keep your promises. Today we’ve gathered to
renew your deepest vision for your children. In honoring one of our daughters, our sister, who’s been called to educate, to lead us out of settling for less than you would ever settle for, in caring for all your creation and all your children. Give Dr. Kaya Henderson
and this university, the constant prompt of another
celebrated grandmother, much like her own, that grandmother of Maya Angelou. Whom she described, “Mamma, a tall cinnamon-colored woman, “with a deep, soft voice. “Standing thousands of feet up in the air, “on nothing visible. “Who, when times were difficult, “would clasp her hands behind her back “and announce to her family in particular, “and to the world in general, “I will step out on the word of God, “I will step out on the word of God.” Let us step out lively today, with head and heart reignited by your word and with Dr. Henderson’s guidance and this university’s support; help us to grow our city’s schools into learning centers of
imagination and creativity, for the benefit of both town and gown. For your great glory,
let us step out today, on your word and your promise, Amen? – [Audience] Amen.
Amen. – Kindly remain standing at your places until the academic procession
has left Gaston Hall. On behalf of President DeGioia, and Chancellor Henderson, I thank you for your presence today, in particular, I thank the members of Georgetown University Chamber Singers, and the Woodrow Wilson Jazz Ensemble, who have enhanced our ceremony with their music. Please join President DeGioia and our esteemed honoree, at the reception that
will follow immediately, on the second floor of this building. The honorary degree exercises for Chancellor Kaya Henderson are now officially closed. (audience applauds) (“Rondeau from Sinfonie de Fanfares”)

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