Reflections from the 2018 Student Commencement Speaker

Abigail Gage
Strategic Studies
MA ’18
First Year: SAIS Europe

When asked to reflect on her experience attending Johns Hopkins SAIS, 2018 student commencement speaker, Abigail Gage, referred to it as challenging and engaging, both in and out of the classroom. She appreciated that the school gave her the opportunity to attend study trips such as the 2017 NATO Transformation Seminar Young Professionals Day in Budapest, the SAIS Israel trek to examine the history, politics, and economics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a Staff Ride on the Korean Peninsula to study the Korean War and explore how it shaped political, social, and economic conditions there today.

Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election and responding to the increasingly divisive political rhetoric post-election, Abigail co-founded a reoccurring national security salon. Designed to increase students’ exposure to varied political views, the salon series featured 1.5 hour sessions of guided bipartisan discussion about major national security issues, such as migration, the decision to use force in Syria, the U.S. role in the world, and ethics in national security. The salon series has successfully built new relationships between students of differing political persuasions.

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, Abigail has gained life-long friends through through the school. Whether playing on an international soccer team, begun at SAIS Europe and continued in Washington, DC, or traveling with her peers to their home countries, Abigail’s classmates have given her a new perspective with which to view the world.

For the school’s incoming students, Abigail has two pieces of advice to make the most of their graduate school experience:

  • Take classes outside of your comfort zone. You never know what untapped interest or aptitude you will discover – for Abigail it was economics!
  • Participate in as many extracurricular activities as possible, clubs, talks, study treks and staff rides! These experiences will bring classroom lessons to life and create lasting friendships.