The Class of 2024: Insights and Wisdom

Graduate students sitting and smiling in their regalia.

This year the School of Continuing Studies (SCS) proudly celebrates the graduation of 1,112 accomplished changemakers. Among them, the Class of 2024 bears witness to the exceptional achievements of three outstanding individuals who have surmounted formidable challenges and gained insightful wisdom throughout their academic pursuits.

From overcoming personal health challenges to serving the country, or leading transformative diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, these remarkable students exemplify the Spirit of Georgetown as they embark on new beginnings on Thursday, May 16.

Allow us to introduce the inspiring stories of Kate Hilts, Garth Thomas, and Wedly Cazy: SCS exemplars of resilience and determination who embody Georgetown’s values with every stride.

People for Others: Kate Hilts

Kate Hilts, a 2024 graduate of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program at Georgetown University.
Kate Hilts, a 2024 graduate of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program at Georgetown University.

Emerging as a beacon of resilience, Kate Hilts is a student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program and a 2024 Tropaia Award Winner. From mourning the loss of her father to being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and beginning her master’s program during the depths of the pandemic, Hilts has relentlessly pursued her degree to continue being a Person for Others.

Hilts’ impact reverberates far and wide as she channels her passion for advocacy into meaningful action. Currently a senior digital strategist at the National Education Association, she has also worked for the AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood, and Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign. Hilts says that the Georgetown value of People for Others has led her to where she is today.

“That value has always guided me in life, and it’s why I do almost everything I do,” Hilts said.

Hilts’ light shines brightest in the realms of service and solidarity. Hilts has participated in Black & Pink, a nationwide LGBTQ+ prisoner pen pal program for more than a decade. She also presented at the Society for Utopian Studies’ annual conference, "Utopia, Dystopia, and the Police: Unmaking Fiction’s Prisons, Remaking a Post-Carceral World," where she not only challenged conventional narratives but also sparked conversations on reshaping societal paradigms. Along the way, Hilts has fostered meaningful connections while uplifting the voices of these marginalized groups.

“The experience has really solidified my belief in amplifying the voices of the folks most denigrated, dismissed, and oppressed in society,” she said.

Amidst her academic journey, Hilts encountered a series of profound life-altering events. One year after her father’s passing, she was suddenly diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2023. Recalling the protracted period of uncertainty leading to diagnosis, she navigated through the intensifying symptoms with resilience.

In the face of life’s unpredictability, Hilts remained unwavering in her commitment to championing justice and equity. Upon finally receiving the necessary care, a wave of relief washed over her, prompting a moment of deep introspection. “It made me reflect on all of my intersecting identities: as a woman (the vast majority of people with autoimmune diseases are women), a newly disabled and chronically ill person, and a person privileged enough to have health insurance.”

Graced by the support of her professors, friends, and mentors, Hilts forged ahead, enriched by invaluable experiences, insights, and newfound aspirations. As Commencement looms on the horizon, Hilts gained a revitalized zeal for academia. “The program reminded me that I can do something difficult and different!”

Hilts’ Words of Wisdom

I really hope that we can use our incredible privilege as Georgetown graduates to improve the world around us. There are a lot of crises right now calling out for justice, and any of us can use our power in pursuit of that.

Educating the Whole Person: Lieutenant Commander Garth Thomas

Lieutenant Commander Garth Thomas, a 2024 graduate of the Master’s in Human Resources Management program at Georgetown University.
Lieutenant Commander Garth Thomas, a 2024 graduate of the Master’s in Human Resources Management program at Georgetown University.

Lieutenant Commander Garth Thomas, a soon-to-be graduate of the Master’s in Human Resources Management program, embodies the essence of a lifelong learner and a dedicated service member. Graduating alongside 176 military-connected SCS students, he has successfully balanced the rigors of active-duty responsibilities with academic pursuits. LCDR Thomas seamlessly melds his roles as a student, leader, and coach, emblematic of Georgetown’s commitment to Educating the Whole Person.

As the United States Navy Commanding Officer of the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Lansing, Mich., LCDR Thomas is not only a dedicated serviceman but also a devoted husband, father, and boxing coach at the University of Michigan. Through coaching, he imparts invaluable life lessons to his athletes, emphasizing the importance of focus and discipline—a philosophy that permeates his academic journey.

“We teach losing focus at any time during a bout can mean a knockout loss. While not as significant as an actual match, losing focus and motivation in life can have the same negative consequences,” he said.

A dedicated student and military officer, LCDR Thomas confronts his obstacles with decorum and tenacity. When faced with the disappointment of not securing his preferred Commanding Officer position in the Navy, he transformed the setback into an opportunity for reflection and growth, embracing a positive mindset that has led him to success.

“It has tremendously influenced my growth—I have learned humility, patience, and trust from this situation that I have applied to my academic journey at Georgetown,” said LCDR Thomas.

On top of his considerable coursework, LCDR Thomas also passed his Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Guided by his wife, Kaori Thomas, a native of Hiroshima, LCDR Thomas continues to refine his vernacular—setting the stage for his family’s forthcoming relocation to Japan.

“My wife has a tremendous impact on my personal growth and development as she corrects my mistakes and pronunciation,” he said.

With his master’s degree, LCDR Thomas prepares to transition from military service with his sights set on Tokyo. There, he aspires to carve a new professional niche as a real estate agent and HR director. Inspired by his Georgetown education, he harbors aspirations of further academic pursuit at the University of Tokyo.

LCDR Thomas’ Words of Wisdom

‘Every day is Tuesday.’ You must have the mindset that no matter what, you still have work to do. Earn the degree every day. Also, advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer. Listen to yourself and put in the work.

Community in Diversity: Wedly Cazy

Wedly Cazy, a 2024 graduate of the Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program at Georgetown University.
Wedly Cazy, a 2024 graduate of the Master’s in Public Relations & Corporate Communications program at Georgetown University.

As an intrepid first-generation student and fervent storyteller, Wedly Cazy commenced his journey in the Master’s in Public Relations & Corporate Communications program with a steadfast vision to reimagine the industry, while epitomizing the ethos of Community in Diversity.

Currently serving as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for Georgetown’s Graduate Student Government, Cazy regards his leadership of campus-wide DEI initiatives as his crowning achievement.

“Ultimately, the value of Community in Diversity recognizes the strength and opportunity that arise when people come together with their unique perspectives and backgrounds to create a vibrant, inclusive, and interconnected community,” he said.

As a student, Cazy strived to enhance the multicultural representation of the University to enrich the educational experience at SCS and reaffirm the School’s commitment to inclusivity. “Unity in Diversity” Week, a cornerstone of his initiatives, celebrated the kaleidoscope of cultures within Georgetown’s graduate student community through various events ranging from culinary traditions to stories and performances.

“The capstone event drew record participation and ignited conversations that bridged cultural divides, embodying the unity and understanding it aimed to promote,” Cazy said.

Cazy endured his own labyrinth of challenges as a first-generation scholar acclimating to a new language and academic environment. To navigate this unfamiliar terrain, he sought solace in mentorship, cultivating bonds with faculty, advisors, and seasoned professionals through networking events and University programs.

“These relationships provided invaluable insights into academic expectations and professional etiquette, effectively demystifying the graduate school experience and empowering my journey,” he said.

As Cazy stands on the cusp of a new beginning on Commencement Day, he is brimming with anticipation as he charts his way toward a Ph.D. Looking ahead, Cazy aspires to bridge scholarly inquiry with societal impact while manifesting Jesuit values every step of the way.

“In alignment with the Jesuit tradition of service and leadership, I aim to ensure that my work as a researcher and eventual scholar maintains a clear line of sight to the greater good, actively working to address pressing societal issues,” Cazy said.

Cazy’s Words of Wisdom

As we stand on the precipice of new beginnings—armed with knowledge, shaped by experiences, and driven by our collective dreams—let us remember the defining values Georgetown has imbued in us. May we constantly contribute to dialogue, stand at the forefront of change, and extend our hands to lift others. Georgetown has been more than an institution for us; it has been a transformative journey, a community, and a home. Our future is bright and promising; let’s embrace the adventures that await us.

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