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School of Public and International Affairs

Growing the Pack: SPIA Grads Ready to Make Their Mark

An NC State undergraduate displays her motar board ahead of her spring graduation. Photo by Marc Hall

The School of Public and International Affairs celebrated its 2023 graduates the first week of May with three distinct ceremonies that honored the achievements of nearly 200 graduates. 

Undergraduate Degrees Conferred

Graduating seniors in SPIA’s political science and leadership in the public sector degree programs were celebrated during a May 5th ceremony. Emma Baynard (PSBA) and Maria Fabiano (LPSBA) delivered the student addresses for their respective programs. Baynard reminded her fellow graduates of all they had experienced and accomplished together during their time at NC State and noted that “as we go out into the larger world we each will face many challenges, but we must stay true to ourselves and our values. It is important to be patient, kind to ourselves and open to the journey.” In her address, Fabiano noted that “the LPS program promised to hone my leadership skills to prepare me for advanced placement in my career, and without a doubt, I feel that this promise was kept.” 

The Erika Fairchild Award for Outstanding Research Paper was presented to Hannah Braun (PSBA). Deeya Deepak (PSBA) received the William J. Block Award for Service. The Block Award is given annually to an undergraduate political science student and a graduate public administration student who have exhibited outstanding leadership on campus and within the broader community. Students receiving highest honors were also celebrated including 10 Summa Cum Laude students who graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. 

A Host of New Scholars and Public Servants

The Department of Public Administration awarded diplomas to 25 MPA and seven Ph.D. graduates. This was one of the largest groups of Ph.D. graduates in the program’s history. 

Professor and MPA Director Jerrell Coggburn presented Alycia Thornton (MPA) with the 2023 William J. Block Award for Service. Brent Hazelett (‘99) received the Distinguished MPA Alumni Award and Professor and Public Administration Department Interim Chair, Christopher Galik, was honored with the James E. Swiss Outstanding Faculty Award. Class of 1980 MPA alum Debra Bryant was the keynote speaker for the afternoon. In the mid-1990’s, Debra was appointed by Governor James B. Hunt to run the North Carolina Governor’s Washington Office and serve as the Appalachian Regional Commission Alternate for the State of North Carolina. She is currently the president of Unified Solutions, LLC, where she provides federal government services to local governments.

The Master of International Studies program celebrated its 24 graduates on May 6, 2023. An accomplished group, they leave NC State well prepared for careers in government service, international institutions and non-governmental organizations. MIS GSA President Shannon Wells reflected on her cohort’s journey and Executive Director of Go Global NC, Meredith Henderson, gave the keynote address.

The University Ceremony 

NC State University’s main commencement ceremony took place on Saturday, May 6, and featured SPIA alum, General Anthony J Cotton as the commencement speaker. Cotton graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He currently is the commander at United States Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. He addressed the students with character qualities that he calls “Cotton’s 4 Cs”: competence, commitment, composure, and compassion. “Be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Be you- own it. Be confident that you can and will conquer the many challenges that will come your way and commit to being that master of your craft.” You can watch Cotton’s full speech here

Congratulations to all our graduates. We can’t wait to see how you’ll shape the future.