Alumni Return to Campus for CMU’s Biggest Launch Weekend – News

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May 11, 2022

When Carnegie Mellon University celebrates its 124th commencement year, it won’t just be members of the Class of 2022 at Gesling Stadium and other venues May 13-15. Class of 2021 and 2020 graduates will also commemorate their degrees in person with family and friends.

“The historic magnitude of this year’s launch is matched only by our community‘s anticipation of returning to this cherished tradition in person,” said CMU President Farnam Jahanian. “We look forward to celebrating the achievements of three classes of Tartans with all the pomp and circumstance our graduates deserve.”

Provost and Director of Studies James H. Garrett, Jr. said the world has changed since the three classes began their journey to CMU.

“While college is a life-changing experience, the world itself has changed from the time these three classes began their studies until today,” Garrett said. “Everyone is proud of what these learners and scholars have accomplished under extraordinary circumstances.”

More than 25,000 people are expected to be on campus during the launch weekend. Nearly 3,100 students and alumni registered to participate in the graduating student ceremony on Friday, and more than 2,200 students and alumni registered for Sunday’s in-person debut.

Sarah Penfield will be at both ceremonies with her family.

“I feel like this will be a sense of closure to my time at CMU,” said Penfield, who earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 2020 and a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering in December 2021. She now works as an environmental engineer in the Washington State Department of Ecology. “I have other friends coming back, and the reunion we’re going to have will be very exciting.”

Penfield was a senior when CMU switched to distance learning. One of the things she said she missed the most during this time was playing the clarinet in the Strip Kiltie.

“It was really tough. We missed a lot of typical senior things that you get excited about, like carnival, graduation, and other celebrations,” she said. “Some of these experiences were put on hold due to the pandemic, but I was really happy that we got to play another spring performance with Paul Gerlach [founding director of the Kiltie Band] before his retirement. I hope to be able to see him again at the ceremony, if he is there.”

For the past two years, CMU has held moderate launch exercises due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, only participating students were allowed in person while in 2020 the university hosted an online degree conferring program that included a shipment of over a dozen acclaimed alumni.

On Friday, May 13, doctoral and master’s graduates and candidates from all three promotions will gather for a full opening ceremony at Gesling Stadium. Vijay Adipudi, an MBA graduate from the Tepper School of Business, will be the student speaker. Portugal‘s Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, who will receive a doctorate in science and technology, will deliver the keynote address.

On Saturday, May 14, a balaclava ceremony for doctoral students and candidates will take place at the Gesling stadium. Nobel laureate in chemistry Frances Arnold, who will receive a doctorate in science and technology, will deliver the keynote address.

On Sunday, May 15, Baccalaureate graduates and candidates from all three classes will gather for a full opening ceremony at Gesling Stadium. Lisa Oguike, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and Public Policy and International Relations and Politics with a minor in Cybersecurity and International Conflict, will be the student speaker. CMU alumnus Billy Porter will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts degree and deliver the keynote address. Porter is an Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer, director, songwriter, writer, and playwright.

For those unable to attend in person, all three ceremonies will be available live.

The department’s graduation ceremonies will be held in person for the first time in three years.

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