Georgetown Graduates: Go Do Something Big

Do something big.

That was the advice given by Scott Case, the co-founder of Priceline, to the graduates of the Georgetown School of Continuing Studies on Friday, May 18, in front of Healy Hall.

Case, in his commencement address, told the more than 500 graduates that “it takes as much effort to work on a big idea as it does a small idea,” the same advice he was given more than 15 years ago when he helped start Priceline, the hotel and vacation packages discounter. Within two years, the company grew to more than $1 billion in sales, making it one of the fastest-growing internet companies of its time in the 1990s.

“Test you’re thinking about the things you’re going to do next. Test your ideas, test your vision, test the things you get yourself involved with against the notion of doing something big – because it’s just as much effort,” said Case, who has also led “big” efforts to lower the number of deaths caused by malaria in Africa and now heads a new project, the Startup America Partnership, where he is working to provide a spark to American entrepreneurship.

Exciting Times for SCS Graduates

Graduates from all of the school’s various degree programs received their diplomas, including those earning Doctoral, Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Liberal Studies, and those obtaining degrees from the school’s Master of Professional Studies programs in Human Resources Management, Journalism, Public Relations & Corporate Communications, Real Estate, Sports Industry Management and Technology Management.

“It’s exciting,” said Jason Brown, graduating from the Real Estate program. “It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s been an extraordinary experience.”

“It feels great,” said Lisa Dicarlo-Fedders, graduating from the Human Resources Management program while, like many other students, working and taking part-time classes at night. “I’m just going to enjoy this a little bit and then it’s on to do great things.”

Saying So Long to Dean Manuel

“It was a really nice ceremony and perfect weather,” said Michael Rejmaniak, who graduated from the Technology Management program while also working at the School of Continuing Studies. “Everything worked out really well. It was also great to be here for Dean Manuel’s last graduation ceremony.”

Dr. Robert Manuel, who has been the dean of the School of Continuing Studies for six years, was recently appointed president of the University of Indianapolis. Manuel, like many of the students who have graduated during his tenure, will be leaving later this summer to embark on new challenges.

“Rob, you have provided excellent leadership in our community,” said Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia. “I want to thank you for your friendship and for your extraordinary service.”

The Road Ahead

President DeGioia also thanked the graduates for their commitments to continuous learning.

“As members of our School of Continuing Studies, you each represent a diverse collection of talents, of passions and of experiences that have brought you here today. You all have demonstrated commitment to lifelong learning. You came here because of a desire to pursue your very best work and to become your very best selves.”

“Now the work begins,” said Merabell Puwo, graduating from the Sports Industry Management program. “My goal is to get an opportunity in sports event management or work for a sport’s governing body. Hopefully in Africa. That’s where I’m from, Cameroon.”

“It’s been a wonderful program,” said Lea Nicotra, graduating from the Public Relations & Corporate Communications program. “I had great instructors, made some great friends and learned a lot.”

“It’s been a lot of hard work and to finally be done is a great accomplishment,” said Aswathi Kunnath, also graduating from the Technology Management program. “It really does feel great.”

Graduates Give Thanks

In his opening remarks, Case challenged the graduates to “break the rules” by pulling out their mobile phones (which were not allowed at the ceremony) during his speech and texting a “thank you” to someone who made their graduation journey possible.

Case then talked about the many important influences in his life, including: his father, who encouraged him to get his engineering degree; his mom, who taught him that it’s better to give than receive; and his wife, for her tolerance and ability to unselfishly help fuel his ambitions.

To close, Case asked the graduates to turn around and shout out a big “thank you” to family and friends in attendance.

“There are a lot of people around you who helped get you to this place,” Case said.

“My family, my friends – I couldn’t have done it without them,” agreed Dicarlo-Fedders, who celebrated with her family, other graduates and their supporters during a post-graduation reception held at the Leo J. O’Donovan Dining Hall.