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Oksana Markarova Set to Speak at Commencement 2023

Each year around mid-April, the campus buzzes with predictions as to who will be coming to speak to the graduating students at Commencement. Amy Poehler? Bruce Springsteen? Boston College has scored many noteworthy Commencement speakers in the past, from last year’s Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to George Bush Senior in 1982 and even the controversial choice of Condoleezza Rice in 2006. 

After much speculation, it was announced on Tuesday, April 18th, that Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, will be delivering a Commencement speech to the Boston College Class of 2023 on Monday, May 22nd.

While many BC students may be unfamiliar with the work of Markarova, she has been a prominent figure in Ukrainian politics since joining civil service in 2015. Markaroa served as Ukraine’s Minister of Finance from 2018 to 2020, during which she notably worked to negotiate a 14-month Stand-By Arrangement of 3.9 billion USD, developed with the goal of preserving Ukraine’s macroeconomic stability and fostering economic growth. Markarova also made a mark on the Ukrainian economy by privatizing state-owned enterprises, implementing tax reforms to increase transparency, and reducing the state budget deficit from 4.9 percent of GDP in 2014 to about 2 percent of GDP in 2019 and 2020. Markarova will continue to be recognized by Ukranians for her increasing governmental transparency and for giving the economy a more stable footing, both of which continue to aid Ukranians to this day. 

After briefly serving on the board at Kyiv Mohyla Academy, where she previously earned a degree in 1999, Markarova was appointed Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States in February of 2021. Since then, the work has been non-stop as Russia’s war in Ukraine still persists after Russia invaded the nation on February 24th, 2022. 

While serving as Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, Markarova has made it her top priority to cooperate with the Biden administration to receive the utmost support for Ukrainians. She has worked to secure military aid from Congress, reiterate the connection of the US with Ukraine through a Charter on Strategic Partnership in November of 2021, and continuously advocates for upholding Ukrainian democracy and independence.

After experiencing one obstacle after another these past few years, Makarova will possibly address the importance of resilience in her speech at Commencement. She may also speak to the importance of humanitarian support and helping others in times of need. 

BC President William P. Leahy will present Makarova with an honorary degree at the 147th Commencement of the university. Also receiving honorary degrees includes Jeanne McGowan ‘90, founding president of La Salle Academy; Herb Scannell ‘79, a media executive and president of Nickelodeon; Katrina Shaw ‘98, former CEO of Freedom House; and Jerry York ‘67, former BC hockey coach of 28 seasons. 

Regardless of how well BC students know of Markarova, they should prepare themselves for a moving Commencement ceremony speech filled with empowerment; after all, Makarova is the first ever woman to hold the position of Ambassador of Ukraine to the US. Markarova will undoubtedly send off the class of 2023 with the motivation to soar to new heights.

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