For CNN anchor, graduation speech brings a challenge all its own

Many people don’t remember what was said at their college graduation as many schools aim to bring someone who has more name recognition than solid advice, but Mason’s 2015 commencement speaker hopes to bring a globalized voice to the podium as she shares how George Mason University took her across the world.

“I know one of the things people always say is I can’t remember who was the commencement speaker so I hope, I think, for some people they have a vague memory of this day,” said Hala Gorani, who will deliver the commencement address at Mason’s 48th annual commencement ceremony. “But I think also from looking into the profile of George Mason students, I think my experience and what I’ve kind of [done] over the last 20 years in my career it can be useful.”

Gorani currently hosts “The World Right Now with Hala Gorani” on CNN, an international affairs program based out of London. She graduated from Mason in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and then she went on to study at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris, where she also grew up. 

“I didn’t know that I wanted to be a journalist when I started at George Mason,” Gorani said over the phone from London. “But writing articles for the Broadside [now Fourth Estate] is kind of what crystallized my desire and made it apparent that I want to be come a journalist.”

Gorani won a News and Documentary Emmy for her coverage of the 2011 Egyptian revolution and was part of CNN’s coverage of the Arab Spring. Even though she is used to covering dangerous conflicts, she is nervous to speak at the Patriot Center on May 16 in what will be her first commencement address. This will be only her second time returning to the university since she graduated.

“I’m very nervous I have to say because, first of all, it’s thousands of people,” Gorani said. “I hope, I’ve written the speech, that it will be at the very least, that it won’t be completely forgettable.”

Although she does not remember every detail, Gorani does recall Judy Woodruff, co-anchor of the “PBS Newshour,” speaking at her commencement ceremony. Gorani came to Mason after support from her family, specifically her brother, who is also a Mason alum and will be joining the rest of Gorani’s family at the ceremony to support her.

“That’s the Mason family tradition,” Gorani said.

While Gorani worked for Broadside during her days at Mason, she wishes that she had participated in more extracurricular activities. Gorani also noted that working at Broadside helped her focus on her career and led to one of the biggest pieces of advice she can give: find something you would do for free, but never do it for free.

Photo Courtesy of CNN