Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to Address Graduates

Family members graduate together

Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman will deliver the address at the Georgia Institute of Technology's 221st commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, 2005 at the Georgia Dome. The ceremony is expected to feature 2,400 graduates. The spring ceremony was moved from its traditional location of the Alexander Memorial Coliseum to the Georgia Dome to accommodate the increasing number of graduates.

Bodman became the nations's eleventh secretary of energy on February 1. He has served in the Bush administration since 2001 when he joined the Department of Commerce to serve as deputy secretary. In 2004, he moved to the Department of the Treasury where he again held the position of deputy secretary.

Before entering public service, Bodman worked in the private sector for 30 years as a financier and executive. In 1987, he joined the Cabot Corporation, a Boston-based Fortune 300 company, where he served as chairman, CEO and a director. Prior to that he served as president and chief operating officer of Fidelity Investments and a director of the Fidelity Group of Mutual Funds.

Bodman received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University in 1961 and his science doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965. For the next six years he served as an associate professor of chemical engineering at M.I.T. and began his work in the financial sector as technical director of the American Research and Development Corporation, a pioneer venture capital firm. He and his colleagues provided financial and managerial support to scores of new business enterprises located throughout the United States.

Bodman is former director of MIT's School of Engineering Practice and a former member of the MIT Commission on Education. He also served as a member of the Executive and Investment Committees at MIT, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Trustee of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the New England Aquarium.

A Family Affair

This spring, four graduating students will be sharing the stage with family members. Mona Kashlan will receive her bachelor's in Management while her daughter Farah Kashlan will receive her master's in Public Policy. In addition, sisters Rosie and Gina Kwok will both receive their Master's of Business Administration (MBA).

It's fair to say the Kashlans are a die hard Georgia Tech family. Next year, there will be three Kashlans getting their diplomas at Tech. Mona Kashlan's daughter, Nadine, will graduate from the College of Architecture, while nephews Samy and Osama will get their bachelor's degrees in biomedical engineering and chemical engineering, respectively. Her son, Kareem, also has his eyes on becoming a yellow jacket, but he'll have to wait a few years. He's still a high school freshman.

"When I came here in 1986, I heard so many things about the school because my brother-in-law was in school at Georgia Tech," said Mona Kashlan. "I fell in love with the school and decided this is where I want to be."

Being a non-traditional student at Tech was tough, but worth it, she said. "After waiting all these years to get my degree, I didn't want just any degree. I wanted a Georgia Tech degree." She's graduating with highest honors, with an expected grade point average of 3.83.

Following graduation, she has her sights on a position in marketing or strategic management at a large international corporation. Daughter, Farah, is looking at Ph.D. programs and plans to work in public policy as a consultant.

Although her husband didn't go to Tech, Mona Kashlan said there's no one more proud of his Georgia Tech family. "If he wanted to put bumper stickers on his car, his would have to say 'My wife, my daughters, my money and my heart go to Georgia Tech'," she said. "I would like to thank him, because if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here. It took a lot of adjustment."

Rosie and Gina Kwok didn't plan on graduating together, but it worked out that way. Rosie Kwok returned to her alma mater in 2002 to pursue her MBA but took an internship the next year at Disney World. Her sister, Gina, started Tech in 2003. By the time she returned from her internship, the sisters were scheduled to finish their degrees at the same time.

"When I left for a year and came back, I didn't know anybody else in the program because everyone I knew had already graduated. It was nice to come back and have a friendly face here with me," said Rosie Kwok.

"And when I started, she was gone," said Gina Kwok. "It was nice because I already knew a lot of her friends. They helped me get through my first year."

Rosie Kwok was working for AMB IT, a Smyrna-based company that makes timing equipment for the racing industry, when she decided to pursue her MBA.

"It's a small company and a lot of the things there I learned on my own, so I really wanted to come back to school to see how it's done," she said.

Gina Kwok was also working in the industry when she decided to make the jump to Tech. "I worked for a consulate here in Atlanta and I saw how much international business is conducted here," she said. "I knew that the MBA program at Tech is very well known in the international business community so I figured this would be a good way for me to build contacts."

Wanting to take advantage of Tech's international offerings, she spent a semester in South Korea last year at her parents' alma mater, Seoul National University. She also took a class in Singapore during spring break.

Rosie Kwok plans on returning to AMB IT after graduation, while her sister is still looking for something in the marketing or human resources fields.

Like the Kashlan's the Kwok sisters aren't the only ones in their family to have yellow jacket fever. Their brother Marcus graduated from Tech in December with a double major in computer engineering and mathematics. He's currently conducting research at The Johns Hopkins University.