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Mohammed Dewji to Graduates: Recognize the Power in Community

Two decades ago when Mohammed Dewji (B’98) crossed the stage at Georgetown University’s commencement ceremony, he asked himself an important question – ‘is the world ready for me?’

In many ways, the answer was yes. Dewji returned home to East Africa and transformed his father’s business into the largest homegrown company in East and Central Africa, MeTL Group. He became a politician and invested personal profits into public development in support of the Tanzanian people. He founded the Mo Dewji Foundation to give back in service to others. The world, in fact, was ready for someone like Dewji. 

But later in life, as he reflected on the question he posed on his graduation day, he had an important realization. 

Dewji addresses the Class of 2022 during commencement.

The world is never about you – but it should always concern you,” Dewji said. 

“Once we embrace the reality that the outcomes in our lives are truly in the hands of others, we  become motivated to understand each other. We become better stewards of our community. By clearing paths for others, we find our own.” 

Dewji emphasized the importance of leveraging the people around you, devoting oneself to others, and building strength in community. He also reminded the 776 undergraduates and 330 graduates in the McDonough School of Business Class of 2022 of a phrase already ingrained into their education as a Hoya: the Jesuit value of cura personalis – sharing a profound sense of responsibility and care for one another. 

He urged students to never lose sight of these important principles, as well as the broader Hoya community, as they progress through their professional careers.

“I have no doubt that each of you will follow your unique paths in service to the highest levels,” said Dewji. “But know this: when you reach that level, that’s when it’s easiest to forget how much you need your community.” 

Dewji understands the power of community better than most. Four years ago, he was abducted and held captive for nine days – bound by ankles and wrists, and beaten. In a moment of immense vulnerability and struggle, people worked around the clock to plead for his release. Friends, colleagues, social media networks, and media outlets around the world helped facilitate his rescue. 

His community showed up for him – so he recommitted to doing the same. 

Now, he urges the Class of 2022 to follow suit: find life’s purpose by connecting their pursuits to the betterment of others. 

President DeGioia awards Dewji an honorary doctorate during the commencement ceremony.

“Whose lives can you touch? Search your heart for the answer. If you combine that curiosity with the knowledge you’ve gained in your time here, then the world will be yours to shape,” Dewji said. “May you shine bright, conquer your fears, and leave a positive legacy on your communities.”

In addition to delivering the McDonough School of Business commencement address, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia awarded him an honorary doctorate at the ceremony.

For the Class of 2022, commencement is the culmination of their time at Georgetown and a celebration of how far they have come. Over 1,100 graduates came together to reflect on their academic achievements and look ahead to the next chapter of their lives beyond the Hilltop. 

“We grew and built a lot together over the past two years, so seeing it all come together today reminds me of where we started and how far we have progressed since then,” said Diana Salkini (MBA’22).

The Class of 2022 celebrating together during commencement exercises.

For the graduates of the Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program, this is a personal accomplishment as well as a milestone for the program. The Class of 2022 marks the first cohort to earn their MSBA degrees from Georgetown McDonough. 

“As the inaugural MSBA cohort, we have been through lots of highs and lows over these past 18 months with each other, from learning statistics to machine learning to coming onto campus for the first time in person to meet and network together as a group,” said Pedro Voyer (MSBA’22). “We had the ability to connect as Georgetown students, make new friends, foster new experiences, and today, we graduate with the inaugural MSBA degree from the McDonough School of Business.” 

For Christian Terrell (MSF’22), Dewji’s emphasis on community and service deeply resonated with his experience at Georgetown, and he hopes to carry those values forward in the next stage of his life. 

“Georgetown is truly a special place. My time here has been transformative as this community has allowed me to build the life I have always dreamed of living,” said Terrell. “I expanded my education, strengthened my faith, found my fiancé, and figured out who I truly am as a person. I will forever be grateful for the love and support that this community has provided me and I look forward to paying it forward. Hoya Saxa!”

Watch the video recording of the ceremony.