By Preston Williams
George Mason University
George Mason Universityâ€™s Class of 2015 includes graduates from 68 countriesâ€”and a commencement speaker who is a familiar face in just about all of them.
Hala Gorani, BS Economics â€˜92, a CNN International anchor and host of â€œThe World Right Now with Hala Gorani,â€ will address Mason graduates at the universityâ€™s 48th Commencement at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Patriot Center.
Mason President Ãngel Cabrera will host the event for a graduating class of more than 8,500 and their families.
Gorani got her start in journalism working at the Mason student newspaper and from there branched into newspaper reporting jobs in France and TV reporting in France and England. She has been an award-winning international journalist at CNN for the past 17 years.
Goraniâ€™s brother, Zafair Basha, BS Computer Science â€™86, also graduated from Mason and is expected to be among family members in attendance Saturday.
Robert Templin, who served as president of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) from 2002 to 2015, will receive the Mason Medal, the universityâ€™s highest honorary award.
At NOVA, Templin created a strategic plan to increase access to deserving students from lower-income and immigrant communities, including the Pathway to the Baccalaureate program. Mason, NOVA and area school systems work together in the Pathway program to provide support to selected high school students as they enter higher education.
This yearâ€™s student speaker, Jasjot â€œAviâ€ Jaggi, will graduate with a BA in Government and International Affairs. Born in India, Jaggi has researched and reported on many domestic and international conflicts, and as a Mason forensics team member, he has placed among the top 20 speakers in the country.
The Class of 2015 includes 5,110 students receiving bachelorâ€™s degrees, 2,970 receiving masterâ€™s degrees, 155 receiving law degrees, and 268 receiving doctoral degrees.
The top five undergraduate majors this year are the same as the top five last year, only in a different order. They are psychology (388); criminology, law and society (315); biology (282); applied information technology (267) and accounting (254).
Besides coming from 68 countries, Masonâ€™s 2015 graduates hail from 46 states and the District of Columbia. An estimated 28 percent are first-generation college graduates.