A record-setting 1,776 new graduates were honored at the College of Natural Sciences Senior Celebration May 11. Addressing a full house of 10,000 friends, families, and community members at the Mullins Center, Dean Tricia Serio emphasized the need for scientists to be communicators and advocates.
“The acceptance of scientific knowledge by the public and its integration into policy and practice are both essential components of realizing the potential of our discoveries for the benefit of society,” Dean Serio said. “I call on each one of you to be a public advocate for science by sharing what you’ve learned. Share your knowledge to dispel the perception that science is too difficult for a lay person to understand.”
Graduates from 14 departments and programs were recognized with commemorative medals and celebrated their new status as alumni with a hat toss. “The next generation of innovations are yours to make,” said Dean Serio, “and I can’t wait to see how you choose to change the world for the better.”
Several student speakers highlighted their drive to become changemakers.
Deanna Kenyon, environmental science, said, “We must be brave enough to take a risk—to make the first step, to be leaders, and wholeheartedly embrace change.” Suzanna Yeung, environmental conservation, said, “it takes grit to persevere with our passion during a critical time of change. Congratulations all, let’s lead the way.”
Natalie Howe, geosciences, shared how her studies had changed her personally. “Studying geography has not only helped me understand the interconnectedness of people and the planet, but it has also helped me to find my place in the world,” she said.
Students offered appreciations for “the sense of community and family” they felt during their studies, and the encouragement they received from faculty and from each other. Tanios Abi-Saad spoke of the satisfaction of overcoming challenges with his fellow physicists and experiencing the pure joy of discovery. “It’s the kind of moment I feel right now,” he said, grinning at the crowd.
VIDEO: Watch the full celebration »