Class of 2023
Moments from Commencement
University community celebrates the Class of 2023’s persistence and achievements
On May 12, the University of Rochester conferred academic degrees to more than 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. An audience of thousands—comprising family, friends, loved ones, faculty, staff, community members, and distinguished guests—witnessed the proceedings in person while an additional 4,400-plus viewers from more than 88 countries tuned in online. Enjoy this look back at the Class of 2023’s graduation day!
THE STAGE IS SET: For the second year in a row, the University-wide Commencement Ceremony took place in Fauver Stadium, part of the Brian F. Prince Athletic Complex on the River Campus.
OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO: Vidushi Sharma snapped a photo of her roommate Sanjana Sharma on the Eastman Quadrangle during Commencement celebrations.
SNAP HAPPY: Maggie Mignoli and David Alexander, surrounded by their fellow graduating students, took selfies at the staging area on the Wilson Quadrangle.
HAT TIP: Xijue Wu adjusts Jiawen Xu’s cap in the staging area ahead of the procession into Fauver Stadium.
ON THE MOVE: Members of the Class of 2023 made their way to their seats in Fauver Stadium.
MUSIC TO YOUR CHEERS: The world-renowned Eastman Wind Ensemble, led by doctoral students in conducting Luke Camarillo and Mason St. Pierre, provided the soundtrack for the event.
MARSHAL ARTS: University marshal Katherine Ciesinski (left) and associate marshal Jennifer Kruschwitz headed up the academic procession. Ciesinski carried the mahogany and silver mace, a symbol of authority and dignity, while Kruschwitz held a baton, embellished with dandelions and stars.
BOOK SMARTS: Camille Stevenson, My Nguyen, Lindsey Desplinter, and Alka Kamat perused the Commencement program.
ACADEMIC APEX: Doctoral candidates, garbed in their academic regalia, in Fauver Stadium.
THEY PERSISTED: Sarah Mangelsdorf, University President and the G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor, pictured with the platform party, delivered the opening remarks for the University’s 173rd Commencement. “This year’s Commencement is particularly significant to me,” she told the audience, “because the undergraduates who are graduating today—members of the Class of 2023—and I arrived at this campus within a few weeks of each other.” Their first year at Rochester was upended with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. “You completed a world-class university education despite that all,” she said. “And make no mistake, those qualities—resilience, adaptability, perseverance—the qualities that got you here during some very trying times, will serve you well throughout your life journey.”
POMP IT UP: Eastman School of Music students were recognized and celebrated as their degrees were conferred.
FULL CIRCLE: “It is so cool to be here on campus, not just as an alum, but as your commencement speaker and as the 48th governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Josh Shapiro ’95. “I also want you to know I am proud and humbled to be standing here in the same spot, looking over the same field, where I addressed the class of 1995 during my own commencement 28 years ago.”
Shapiro referenced the Rochester influences on his life, including the prominent political science professor Richard Fenno and then-University dean of students Paul Burgett, as well as several friendships that started at the University and have lasted three decades. “They had a profound impact on my life,” he said. “And I presume each member of this Class of 2023 has someone here at U of R—maybe on the stage, maybe out in the crowd—who deeply impacted you along the way, who you think of, and who I believe you will draw inspiration from for many years to come.”
BETTER NEVER STOPS: Members of the Class of 2023 listened as Pennsylvania Governor and Rochester alumnus Josh Shapiro delivered the Commencement address.
MAKING THE GRADE: David Figlio, attending his first University of Rochester Commencement in his role as provost and chief academic officer, publicly recognized the faculty members who received distinguished teaching awards for their dedication to their students’ academic success.
NO STUDENT IS AN ISLAND: Undergraduate class speaker Alexandra Fegler, the president of the Senior Class Council, gave her remarks to the Class of 2023. “I came to this school confident that I would be capable of doing it all on my own,” she recalled. But then, Fegler continued, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her and her classmates’ studies during their second semester on campus. “It was the first time I began to understand the important role that community plays in my own success”—as well as in helping her deal with her failures along the way. “Each one of my failures has emphasized a significant role that my community, my support system, my chosen family has on my progress and eventual success…We don’t physically need to be together to be inspired and supported by one another.”
FIRST-GENERATION INSPIRATION: Graduate student speaker Raven Osborn, who earned a PhD in translational biomedical science, moved the audience to tears with the story of her academic journey. “I was the first in my lineage to go away to college—which was so devastating when I became the first to drop out,” she said.
Overcoming her self-doubt, Osborn returned to school—attending two different community colleges before enrolling in graduate school at Rochester, where she cofounded the University’s chapter of the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering. “We put a spotlight on this place to change minds, policies, and budgets to ensure that anybody who’s talented, hardworking, and brilliant enough to walk these halls will leave with their star shining brighter than it was when they arrived,” Osborn said. She added, “To first-generation students: I see you, I am you. To DACA recipients, to the queer community, to immigrants, to self-doubters, and to people who always knew that you would be here: We are all so very proud of you.”
BUSINESS CLASS: The Simon Business School contingent cheered after their degrees were conferred.
TURN OF THE TASSEL: Undergraduate degree recipients moved their tassels from the right sides of their caps to left after their degrees were conferred.
PITCH—AND PICTURE—PERFECT: Members of the cappella groups After Hours, the Ramblers, Trebellious, Vocal Point, and the YellowJackets led the audience in singing the University’s alma mater, “The Genesee.”
HAVING A BALL: The newly minted graduates followed the Rochester tradition of throwing beach balls into the air.
GRAD DAD: Tolu Olugboji (left) with Grace Olugboji (center) and Tiana Olugboji.
HONOR ROLL MODEL: Warner School of Education and Human Development graduate Jerry Wang posed for a celebratory photo on the Wilson Quadrangle.
THREE CHEERS FOR THE CLASS OF 2023: We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you!