Scenes from the School Commencement Ceremonies

In individual ceremonies following the morning all-university event, schools across Tufts presented degrees to 3,275 graduates.

Throughout the day on May 22, individual degree ceremonies and luncheons were held by departments in the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, and the graduate and professional schools. Long into the afternoon, cheers and applause could be heard in tents and auditoriums across the Medford/Somerville campus and as far away as Cummings School in Grafton as names were called out and graduates accepted their hard-won degrees. 
 


Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine marked its 40th Commencement on May 22, bestowing degrees upon more than 130 graduates in the school’s first in-person ceremony since 2019. 

Class of 2022 co-president Lindsay Jean Smith, who received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, delivered the class address amid sweltering temperatures. She reflected on the difficulty of completing a grueling academic program during the COVID-19 pandemic and applauded her classmates for their grit.  

“To have grit means to have courage and strength of character,” said Smith. “We not only have grit in our dedication to training and career goals, but we have grit in supporting each other through trying times; striving to go above and beyond for our patients, clients and research; and creating a more diverse and culturally aware profession.”  

Gregory Wolfus, V98, clinical associate professor and director of Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic, was nominated as the faculty speaker. He reminded graduates about the current state of medicine and encouraged them to be agents of change. 

“While we have gained the ability to replace heart valves and manage cancer for some, the cost of health care for both humans and nonhumans is so far out control,” he said. “Identify your strength and recognize the strength in others. Learn to teach, delegate, help, and show your vulnerabilities.” —Angela Nelson

 

At The Fletcher School’s 89th commencement, Abigail Linnington, F04, F13, professor of practice in international security studies and winner of the James L. Paddock Teaching Award, framed her keynote remarks in a historical context. She included an homage to Antonio de Jesus Cardozo, F1934, the school’s first student, who devoted his life to building the school’s alumni network. 

She shared her confidence that the Class of 2022 will “go on to make similar profound and lasting impacts on our Fletcher community and on the greatest challenges of our time. . . . Over the past three years, you have taught us what resiliency, compassion, and intellectual fortitude look like in the face of COVID-19, racial injustice, climate change, and more.” She added: “You are the center of gravity for this institution. I am humbled to be your teacher and I am thrilled to see how you will create the change you wish to see in the world.” 

The School’s Commencement weekend also included a Class Day address on Saturday by keynote speaker Anand Mahindra, CEO of the Mumbai-based Mahindra Group, who urged graduates to harness the “power of purpose,” and recalled how he is inspired by his father, Harish Mahindra, F46, Fletcher’s first graduate from India. “Hold fast to your ideals,” he said. “Embrace the ought, not the is. Shape the world as it ought to be, rather than accepting it as it is.” —Laura Ferguson

 


Family and friends gathered for the School of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences commencement ceremony at the Gantcher Center on May 22, applauding, cheering, whistling, and even roaring as students in black robes with blue or green striped sleeves walked across the stage, smiling behind their masks. 

“I hope you use what you have learned to think critically, to continue to be socially responsible, and to care for each other more humanely and effectively,” said Helen Boucher, School of Medicine dean ad interim. “My wish for you is to give of your time and develop meaningful relationships with your patients.” 

Daniel Jay, GSBS dean, praised many students by name for starting initiatives to improve their peers’ stress levels and to help bring more underrepresented students into graduate biomedical sciences. “You are working to improve the lives of so many, and I cannot wait to see what you accomplish,” he said. “I encourage you to follow your passions, driven by the confidence and compassionate spirit that are our core values.” 

School of Medicine class president Antonio Laracuente pointed out that his classmates include athletes, home chefs, dancers, metalworkers, and more. That variety has made them better doctors and a stronger community, he said. “At Tufts School of Medicine, we are so much more than simply medical students. . . I believe that’s what really makes Tufts special,” he said. “I hope you build amazing communities and pursue what truly makes you happy in both medicine and in life.” 

GSBS student speaker Judith Miriam Hollander challenged her classmates to carry forward the larger perspective and better work habits they have developed. “It’s easy to lose yourself in the pursuit of a question,” she said. “Take what you have learned from the pandemic, and use it to improve the workforce you’re entering.” —Monica Jimenez 

 

Graduates of the School of Medicine’s Public Health and Professional Degree Programs celebrated in their own ceremony on Alumni Field. 

Pritesh Gandhi, A04, M11, MG11 (MPH), chief medical officer at the Department of Homeland Security, delivered the commencement keynote. Gandhi urged the graduates to prioritize self-care and their own health, and to have courage.  

“You have earned the right to shape public health and medical policy and improve the health and wellbeing of the towns and cities you live in,” Gandhi said. “And if you ever have any doubts, or you find yourself alone or backed into a corner—take a moment and look around this room, look at your colleagues, they will support you now and for decades to come.”  

Attendees also heard from student speaker Alexander A. Bonano, who received a master’s in public health and concentrated in health services management and policy. Through his work, Bonano plans to address racial and ethnic health disparities at the national level.  

“It is my hope that we continue to think about the privilege and power we hold in our positions,” Bonano said. “It is my challenge to myself and to everyone here under this tent, that we continue to discern and think critically about how we can empower others and plan for our unintended consequences. Our journey ahead isn’t going to be all sunshine and roses; however, I do believe wholeheartedly that it will be fulfilling.” —Emily Wright Brognano
 


“You have the power to touch more lives than you know,” Romina Aznavaleh, D22 class president, told her fellow graduates at the School of Dental Medicine’s 154th commencement. 

“We have committed our lives to something special. We get to improve the lives of people on a daily basis. Not many professions let you do that.” 

The dental school returned this year to an in-person celebration under a tent on the Carmichael Quad on the Medford/Somerville campus, after two years of online ceremonies. Along with the joy of being able to receive their lavender doctoral hoods in front of family and friends, speakers also acknowledged the losses and hardships brought by COVID-19, and the unique challenge of completing dental school during a pandemic. “I commend the class for its morale, especially during the last two years,” Dean Nadeem Karimbux said. 

Karimbux recalled how he addressed the D22s during their white coat ceremony, when he was the school’s academic dean. “At that day, so long ago, I spoke of the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship, symbolized by the white coat,” Karimbux said. “It is indeed a serious undertaking to take care of others, and to have them trust you as their caretaker."

“Whatever you do, do it with real emotional energy and vitality and passion,” he urged. 

The ceremony included recognition of Bjorn Steffensen, professor and former chair of periodontics, who was awarded emeritus status, and Robert Kasberg, associate dean for admissions and student affairs, who will be leaving Tufts in June. The Tufts University Dental Alumni Associations award for academic excellence, granted each year in honor of an alumnus or alumna, went to Aysel Iranparvar and Ross Palesano, in honor of Robert Chapman, A63, D67, DG74.  

Nikolin Ropi, president of the DI22 cohort of students who had received dental degrees in other countries, and now completed the coursework necessary to practice in the United States, reminded his classmates that going to dental school for the second time is a big adjustment—but “to adjust to change, you must embrace it. Change did not defeat me.”  —Helene Ragovin 
 


The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Class of 2022 was joined at Cohen Auditorium by 51 graduates of the classes of 2020 and 2021, who returned to celebrate their own commencements in person.  

Student speaker Amber Masoni asked fellow graduates to remember how intertwined their different research areas are, and to stay engaged with each other. “You now have the ability to see the deep connections that are necessary to move us forward,” she said. “And we can’t possibly move forward on our own.” 

Friedman School Dean Dariush Mozaffarian said this is an unprecedented moment, as the world awakens to the vulnerabilities and inequities in our food system. “Your Friedman education has prepared you well . . . for jobs far into the future that haven’t been invented, that you can’t even imagine yet,” Mozaffarian said. “I look forward to seeing your successes and working together in this remarkable new world.” 

Commencement speaker Ertharin Cousin, former executive director of the United Nations World Food Program and currently CEO and managing director of Food Systems for the Future—which supports food and agriculture enterprises targeting underserved and low-income communities—quoted Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” 

“Yes, this degree is for you and for your loved ones and families, but also for those who will never sit at that table with you or walk that aisle with you, who are depending on you to make a difference,” she said. “You Friedman School graduates, get it done.” —Monica Jimenez 
 

Visit Commencement 2022 for complete Tufts Now coverage of Commencement events and more on the Class of 2022.

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