Dubai expat serves as senior marshal at Harvard commencement

Published: Fri 12 Aug 2022, 11:59 AM

Dubai resident Peter Davos was selected to serve as a senior marshal for Harvard University’s recent commencement ceremonies, which celebrate the graduation of the institution’s undergraduate college and twelve graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1636, the university has celebrated commencement since 1642, with nine graduates of the first college’s class. This year, over 32,000 parents, students, and faculty took part in the ceremonies which included graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021, who were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as graduates from the class of 2022.

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The commencement ceremony was held in the Tercentenary Theater in Harvard Yard, which is located between the Widener Library and the Memorial Church, and is marked by processions, speeches, music, poetry, and tradition. The undergraduate students were grouped according to their houses and graduates were clustered according to the school they belong to. The process, despite appearing to be slightly chaotic, was closely controlled and punctuated by festive music from the university band, which plays college songs such as '10,000 Men of Harvard' and 'Harvardiana'.

Marshals play a ceremonial role in the graduation ceremonies, which is considered a tremendous honour. Class marshals are selected by their student peers, faculty, and the administration and helps organise and lead the procession of students - literally graduating first in their class. Approximately 150 senior marshals were selected from the school. They were distinguished by their top hats and tails for men, and all black outfits, colourful hats, and crimson rosettes for women. They carried black and crimson batons (which played a more functional role in earlier days) which provided assistance in making the ceremony run as smoothly as possible. The chief marshal was selected from the undergraduate class celebrating its 25th year reunion, who represented the university alumni at the commencement.

Davos, who has lived in Dubai for twelve years and has spent the last ten empowering students through higher education as the head of Hale Education Group, was honoured to serve as senior arshal for the second time. “It’s a dream come true for me - every time I set foot on Harvard’s campus, I get goosebumps, as I don't come in as a visitor, but as an alumnus and member of this incredible community.” This is the second time he has served as senior marshal at the commencement, and has also served as class marshal in 2009. “As the son of Greek immigrants to the US, neither of whom attended university, it had always been a dream to go to Harvard - much less serve as Class or senior marshal,” he said.

Davos has made it his life’s mission to empower youth to advance themselves through university studies in the US. A recipient of the Sheikh Zayed the Inspirer Prize for his work, he has assisted over 1,500 students in their educational journeys through his education consultancy, Hale Education, based in Dubai. He states “For as long as they continue to invite me to Harvard for commencement and I am physically able to travel to the university to serve as senior marshal, I will. I have seen my own students graduate from Harvard and I hope, by God’s grace, to continue to do so.”

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