10 Favorite Moments from Graduation
Congratulations to all Arts & Sciences graduates who earned their bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees this year! Here are 10 moments from the May 2016 festivities that we’ll always remember.
1. Mortarboard Mania
At the College of Arts & Sciences Recognition Ceremony, seniors got creative with their headwear.
2. “I will always have a special connection with the Class of 2016”
Jennifer R. Smith became dean of the College of Arts & Sciences in fall 2012 – the same semester that the Class of 2016 started their WashU journeys. In her speech and in a heartfelt video made by faculty for the seniors, she looked back fondly at their four years together and toward their futures.
“A number of you wished that in your four years here, you would make a difference. And I can assure you that you have. You will be leaving WashU a better place than it was when you came, thanks to your activism, your research, your discoveries, your passion, your contribution and commitment to the WashU community and the St. Louis community. So now you’re heading out to communities both local and around the world, where there are so many opportunities for positive change, so many frameworks for structural inequality that need dismantling, and so many bridges that need to be built. So keep it up. Our hope for the future is you.”
3. An Epic Journey: College and The Faerie Queen
In her speech to her fellow graduating seniors, English literature major Lydia Zoells reflected on the idea of an epic journey, whether it be in the pages of a book or the adventures she and her classmates shared over the last four years.
“By challenging and learning with one another, we have practiced approaching our monsters with caution and being open to changing our minds about people and ideas that seem frightening on the outside…What matters is that we continue to be open, and that we bring to our journeys and battles not just the knowledge but the flexibility of mind that we have learned here…So as we exit the wandering wood of our liberal arts education and continue on our unconventional epic journeys, we bring with us the humility and the dignity to face dragons - not only with courage, but with compassion.”
4. #WashU16 Goes Viral
Thanks to students, faculty, staff, and family members like Jay Sieling who joined in the fun of live-tweeting the College Recognition Ceremony, our celebrations were trending on social media in St. Louis and beyond. To be part of the conversation all year round, follow WashU Arts & Sciences on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!
5. A Very Special Wardrobe Change
At the Graduate School Hooding and Recognition Ceremony, doctoral candidates received hoods from their faculty mentors, making the official transition from students to scholars.
6. Carrying the Banner
At the university-wide Commencement, small groups of students represented every branch of Arts & Sciences by carrying their school banners.
"I believe all of us in this 2016 Class would say we have a story about how we’ve arrived to this point in life...There has been great sacrifice by us students to work diligently as we burned the midnight oil to finish an assignment. There has been great sacrifice by our families...I am just one of many who could be holding the banner at graduation. Nonetheless, since I am, I will thereby humbly uphold the banner with all the more dignity and respect for my fellow graduates and all of our supporters." -Curtis O’Dwyer, MA’16
7. An Inaugural Graduate Student Speaker
Ashley Macrander, the first person in her family to earn a PhD, became the first graduate student to speak at Commencement. She graduated with her doctorate in education.
“Graduate and professional education is rooted in relationship-building. We seek out relationships in our research to the broader scope of work in our field, we invest in relationships with our advisers, who hone our academic and professional development, and we cherish relationships with our peers. Completing an advanced degree is both one of the most difficult and most rewarding pathways down which we will travel, and those who walk with us stay with us forever. We are connected.”
8. “Find a way to get in the way”
U.S. Congressman and civil rights icon John R. Lewis delivered the 2016 Commencement address, a call to action for all the graduates and their families.
“To each and every one of you receiving a degree today, congratulations. This is your day. Enjoy it. Take a long, deep breath and take it all in. But tomorrow you must be prepared to roll up your sleeves because the world is waiting for talented men and women to lead it to a better place...We all live in the same house. We all must be part of that effort to hold down our little house. If you see something that’s not right, not fair, not just, do something about it. Say something. Do something. Have the courage. Have the backbone to get in the way…I was beaten, yes, several times, left bloodied, but I didn’t give up. I didn’t become bitter. The way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence is a much better way. And it doesn’t matter whether we’re black or white, Latino, Asian American, or Native American. It doesn’t matter whether we’re straight or gay, bisexual, transgendered. We are one people, we are one family, we are one house. We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters.”
9. Family, Friends, and Supporters
The enthusiasm on campus was palpable as more than 12,000 members of our extended community entered Brookings quadrangle to support the Class of 2016. We especially loved seeing this furry friend cheering on the graduates!
10. Non-Stop Smiles
And of course, the graduates themselves could not stop beaming. Congratulations, Class of 2016!