Celebrating the Graduating Class of 2017

May 25, 2017
HKS Communications Staff

Dean Elmendorf Exhorts Class of 2017 to 'Choose your Values Carefully'The cool, rainy weather did not temper the spirit of the moment on Thursday (May 25) when 561 Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) graduates received their diplomas during a ceremony at JFK Memorial Park. HKS Dean Douglas Elmendorf presided over the event, encouraging members of the Class of 2017 to “choose your values carefully – and stand up for them, and act on them.”In his address, Elmendorf outlined five important values that he described as “principles we should follow even when doing so conflicts with particular policies or leaders we favor,” saying that “if we can live up to these values consistently, we will be much more effective at making the specific changes needed to solve public problems.”HKS community celebrates another successful year
View the video here.Graduates listen to inspiring words in Harvard YardA rainy Commencement morning kicked off with the Morning Exercises in Harvard Yard. The HKS graduates gathered on the Kennedy School campus for the annual procession to the Yard, wearing their regalia and carrying inflatable globes, meant to symbolize the international scope of the graduates' backgrounds and their future work.In the Yard, President Drew Faust and Dean Douglas Elmendorf officially conferred the degrees on this year's 561 HKS graduates, who joined others from around the University in listening to this year's student speeches and performances by the Harvard University band and choir. Harvard University provost Alan Garber also bestowed 10 honorary degrees on a star-studded group of people, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, actress Dame Judi Dench, literary critic Sandra Gilbert, actor James Earl Jones and composer John Williams.HKS alumna inspires HGSE graduatesOn Wednesday afternoon, Reshma Saujani MPP 1999 spoke at the Convocation ceremony at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, across the Square from HKS. Saujani, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, spoke about her personal and professional journey, emphasizing the need for bravery over perfection and urging HGSE graduates to teach their students - especially girls - to pursue their dreams boldly.Former Secretary of State John Kerry delivers inspiring graduation address
View the video here.Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a rousing and inspiring graduation address on Wednesday (May 24), telling the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Class of 2017 that it is their responsibility to “disturb the universe” to make the world “right – right now.” “I urge you to insist on nothing less than real answers, not just anger – solutions not just slogans – truth and not just talk,” he said.“I know we can restore civility to governance. I know we can insist on leadership that compromises on policy without compromising on principle,” he continued. “I know we can turn this moment of adversity into an age of unparalleled opportunity. I know we can harness our entrepreneurial spirit and our unlimited ingenuity to tame the worst forces of robber-baron greed and instead build a shared prosperity for all.”Kerry used the moment to outline his vision for a “Marshall Plan…for the 21st century,” calling for a global initiative to free up $12-13 trillion dollars for investment in “education, health care, clean energy, connectivity, and infrastructure of all kinds” in those parts of the world most in need.“When countries like the United States, China and India leverage these investments to overcome the virulent bad governance and corruption that costs the global economy more than a trillion dollars a year, then more capital will be excited to invest with urgency. That’s the real way to counter violent extremism,” Kerry exclaimed. “That is an indispensable strategy for prosperity and a legitimate vision that I think Americans and people around the world could fully embrace because it will create jobs everywhere.”Kerry finished his address with an impassioned plea for increased social activism to confront the many challenges facing the United States and the world.“No matter where you end up – no matter what you choose to do – never underestimate the power that you have – and the extraordinary privilege found in one seven letter word: ‘citizen,’” he remarked.“In the end, everything depends on people. It depends on leaders. It depends on building trust and organizing around a set of principles that are acceptable to a majority – and you have to build that majority. As Churchill said, ‘democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.’ So, it’s not a joke to say that you make the difference. It is not a phony charge at graduation – it’s real.”_________________________________________________Current and future leaders in public service – from the United States and across the globe – received their diplomas during commencement ceremonies May 25 at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Harvard Kennedy School’s (HKS) Class of 2017 consists of 561 graduates, representing 99 countries. The HKS Class of 2017 includes a Lieutenant in the United States Coast Guard; a director in the Central Bank of Iceland; a deputy inspector for the New York City Police Department; a former Mexico City legislator; a senior church minister from Nigeria; and a captain of the Critical Care Air Transport Team in the U.S. Air Force. Graduate degrees include: Master in Public Administration (MPA); Mid-Career Master in Public Administration; (MC/MPA); Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID); Master in Public Policy (MPP); Ph.D. in Health Policy; Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government; Ph.D. in Public Policy; and Ph.D. in Social Policy. (All Ph.D. degrees are conferred by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.)   The breakdown by program for the HKS Class of 2017:

  • Master in Public Administration (MPA), 81
  • Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID), 64
  • Mid-Career Master in Public Administration (MC/MPA), 181
  • Master in Public Policy (MPP), 212
  • Ph.D. in Health Policy, 11
  • Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government, 4
  • Ph.D. in Public Policy, 5
  • Ph.D. in Social Policy, 3 
John Kerry at Harvard Kennedy School

John Kerry told graduates, "Never underestimate the power that you have," in his Commencement address.

HKS students in caps and gowns

The HKS Class of 2017 consists of graduates from 99 countries.

John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-495-1100 Get Directions Visit Contact Page