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Faculty voice: Presentation of candidates

May 9, 2023 - Sejuti Das Gupta, Ph.D.

Sejuti Das Gupta is an assistant professor in James Madison College. Trained in political science, Das Gupta shifted to development studies to conduct interdisciplinary research. Her areas of interest are capitalism, colonialism, agrarian political economy, public policy, class-caste and state-society interactions. Das Gupta was recently awarded a Regional Economic Initiative grant to conduct research on the pandemic’s effect on women’s work in Michigan on a formal-informal continuum.

Sejuti Das Gupta in Commencement regalia

Class of 2023, congratulations to you … and your families! I am thrilled to be with you in person! Especially since we were together in 2019 in Wilson Hall in your freshman year, but soon after that we were forced to go online and missed several opportunities to talk to you, meet in the corridors of Case Hall to get to know you more.

Today, we are at this pivotal point in your lives. This gathering, this ceremony, this moment is all for you. As you will walk across the stage and reach the end, that moment will mark you as a graduate. How immensely proud I feel to be with you in this moment!

We have spent a good amount of time today looking forward. You have heard a lot of good advice. And we hope that you carry that advice with you. We, the faculty, believe in you and know you will be ahead of the curve wherever you go. We look forward to following your journey and glow in your glory, as you leave James Madison College and Michigan State University, and go out into the broader world.

Let us take a look at where it all began. As a scholar of development studies and politics, I enjoyed framing the MC201 syllabus with my colleagues. Let us reiterate a few pressing questions that shaped your learning as a student in MSU. Let us return to some of our guiding questions from your first class at James Madison College, Introduction to Public Affairs MC 201. Take a moment to think about your answers to these questions and how they evolved over these last four years.

  • What is the tension between liberty and equality?
  • How do we reconcile individual liberty with the common good?
  • Given resources are finite, what happens when different groups claim conflicting rights or freedoms?
  • In what ways do universal ideals of equal citizenship overlook questions of particular cultural groups-such as social class, race and gender?
  • Where do institutions like state intersect with the functioning of market?
  • Does globalization challenge national citizenship? Is cosmopolitan citizenship our future?
  • How did an interdisciplinary education inform your learning?

Throughout your time at JMC, we have asked you these kinds of vital questions. The questions may have felt very different among the majors, but in many ways they were similar.

You received a liberal education with analytical skill and research ability. With that education, we ask you to engage with the world as a practitioner, policy maker, development professional, social worker, lawyer, leader, professor, journalist – you are ready for various walks of life. JMC students are thinkers and they are doers!

Madisonians understand U.S.-China relations, public policy, constitutional democracy, climate justice, structural inequality, immigration and public health. That is something most JMC students know at the end of their four years. But you have one more thing. You have endured three very difficult years, alongside the world.

You have lived the most hopeful years of your life in worry, despair and global crisis. But as you stand here today, each of you bear a testimony of resilience, high spirits and perseverance. That makes you special! Own that self who persisted and grew and look back at this period as one of deep learning.

During the four years, we pushed you hard to study, engage and write. JMC challenged you but it prepared you to not fear tough assignments and multiple deadlines! And at each step, the college faculty and staff stood beside you and supported you. As you move ahead, always remember we are right behind you.

My only advice: Wherever you go, every once in a while, pause to think of those big questions raised in MC201 to reflect on the world you are making. At JMC, you learned in classrooms and beyond the classrooms. We nurtured your ability to work with teams, manage your time, articulate a nuanced argument and contribute to the larger community. You will need these talents to decide how you will balance your individual success with the success of our society and survival of the planet. The future is yours.

Candidates of James Madison,

Diplomas are waiting on the stage for you

If you join us right now, together you’ll be alumni

Oh, Candidates of James Madison,

You have family that will cheer for you
If we manage to get this right

You’ll be alumni by early light

Now, will the candidates please rise.  

Dean Thies, on behalf of the faculty, I present to you the candidates for the degree of Bachelor of Arts from James Madison College and Michigan State University!