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Commencement 2019: This is one in a series of stories marking the 169th Commencement ceremonies of the University of Rochester.

In Photos

At celebrations and ceremonies throughout Commencement weekend, graduates and their friends and families shared the joy and accomplishment of this exciting milestone for the Class of 2019.


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  • rows of graduates in cap and gown, one in the foreground has a cap decorated with Harry Potter symbols that read LIFE OPENS AT THE CLOSE MAGIC TIME On a balmy Sunday morning, the members of the Class of 2019 take their seats on the Eastman Quad for the College commencement ceremony. (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • graduate in cap and gown speaking from a podium HOME, EVER BETTER HOME Talia Cohavi, president of the Senior Class Council, delivers remarks for the Class of 2019. She concluded by reminding her classmates that “Rochester will always be our home along the Genesee.” (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • Donna Strickland speaking from the podium TRUST THE TRAILBALZER Donna Strickland ’89 (PhD), the third woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics for work she completed as a Rochester doctoral student, gives the commencement address at the College ceremony. “Your path in life won’t be straight, so it’s up to you to choose the path and make the most of it,” she told the Class of 2019. “Most importantly remember that you never know where life is taking you, and so you simply have to try to make the trip as fun as you can.” (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
    WATCH: Donna Strickland’s Commencement Address
  • big crowd of cheering graduates CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES Members of the Class of 2019 cheer after their degrees are conferred. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • speaker on the commencement stage WINNING WORDS “Our generation needs your generation now more than ever. Be the best person you possibly can be,” Richard Handler ’83, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, tells the graduates and their families as he welcomes everyone to the ceremony. His words of advice were drawn from his own list of “100 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before College.” (University photo / J. Adam Fenster) (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • students in cap and gown speaking American Sign Language IN HARMONY The graduates sing—and some sign—the University’s alma mater, “The Genesee” (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • student in gap and gown hugs another students and makes a huge grin BRO HUG Brendan Eder embraces his Phi Kappa Tau little brother, Srihari Chari, after the ceremony. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • students in hijab and cap and gown pose under cherry blossoms SPRINGTIME Amina Shareef and Hibad Arshad pose together for a photo under the flowering trees of the River Campus. (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • overhead view of chandelier in a large theatre filled with graduates RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME Faculty, administrators, students and their loved ones gather in Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre to recognize the accomplishments of the Eastman School of Music’s Class of 2019. (University photo / Zack Shepard)
  • graduate in cap and gown checking cellphones GOOD CALL Charlie Reed checks his phone and relaxes before joining the procession of graduates from the Eastman School. (University photo / Zack Shepard)
  • musicians and graduate cap and gown playing brass instruments KEEP CALM AND TROMBONE Co-directed by Mark Kellogg and Larry Zalkind, the Eastman Trombone Choir performs as audience members take their seats in Kodak Hall for the Eastman School of Music Commencement. (University photo / Zack Shepard)
  • commencement speaker behind the podium MUSIC IN OUR LIVES Vocalist and interpretative artist Julia Bullock ’09E addresses the graduating class after receiving the Eastman School of Music Distinguished Alumna Award. “Whether you’re listening, performing, or teaching, music helps us to find clarity,” she told the audience. “It helps us to be more conscious, to view ourselves in a larger context and more completely.” (University photo / Zack Shepard)
  • graduates, reflected in the surface of a mirrored table. gather for procession ON REFLECTION Members of the School of Nursing’s graduating class congregate in Lowry Hall, outside Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, before the ceremony. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • student in graduation cap speaks at podium JOIN FORCES Celia Rose Freida delivers the undergraduate remarks for the School of Nursing Class of 2019. After quoting rapper Snoop Dogg (“I want to thank me for believing in me”) and noting how nurses “are a true force to be reckoned with,” she offered her classmates these words of wisdom: “Be a force for change, for positivity, transparency, and—most importantly—progress.” (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • student in cap and gown hugs another on the commencement stage MILESTONE MOMENT Alison Simpson, the School of Nursing’s 150th PhD graduate, hugs Dean Kathy Rideout ’95W (EdD). (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • student in cap and gown hugs friends outside Eastman Theatre CIRCLE OF FRIENDS Newly minted School of Nursing graduate Alexandria Kelley celebrates with her friends Ana Maneiro, left, and Faybian Robert William Byrd after the ceremony. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • graduate in cap and gown poses with his two children DAD THE GRAD Michael Yassick poses with his two-year-old twin daughters outside of Eastman Theatre after the School of Nursing ceremony. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • student speaking from podium gives a thumbs up DOCTOR’S ORDERS During the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s commencement ceremony, Jamal Malik Jefferson gives his remarks from the Class of 2019. “Remember you always have a piece of Rochester within you,” he said. “Share it with your patients, share it with your colleagues—sprinkle a little bit of Rochester wherever you go, because you’ve been trained to be memorable.” (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • President Feldman and Dean Taubman in academic regalia stand on stage, smiling MET WITH APPROVAL Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry Mark Taubman, left, and University President Richard Feldman stand ready on stage to confer a doctor of medicine degree to a member of the graduating class. “Have confidence in your abilities, take pride in your accomplishments, knowing that your faculty and all of us who had any role in nurturing your intellectual development are immensely proud of you,” Feldman remarked earlier. (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • row of graduates in the theatre audience, pointing and smiling LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE The candidates listen to associate professor of emergency medicine Flavia Nobay’s faculty address from their seats in Kodak Hall. “Don’t lose you capacity for awe, wonder, and curiosity in medicine,” she counseled them in advance of residency. And, Nobay added, “Eating cheesy tots three days in a row? We will consider that a cry for help.” (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • Donn Strickland laughs while being presented an award on stage by Richard Feldman FROM ROCHESTER RESEARCHER TO NOBEL LAUREATE University President Richard Feldman confers the Rochester Distinguished Scholar Award to Donna Strickland ’89 (PhD), a 2018 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics. She told the audience afterward, “On October 2, 2018, I became one of the most famous graduate students ever and got to show the world that great things are achieved by graduate students here at the University of Rochester.” (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • three photos showing a tall graduate as someone tries to place a doctoral hood over his head LONG STORY SHORT Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences Gloria Culver spares no effort as she places a hood over towering graduate Adam Johnson during the doctoral ceremony. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • two people in cap and gown hugging IN GOOD COMPANY After the doctoral ceremony, new graduate Mark Edward Marion Lassetter Powell gets a hug from his wife, Katherine Ciesinski, the Martin E. and Corazon D. Sanders Professor of Voice at the Eastman School of Music. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
  • group of students taking a selfie PICTURE PERFECT The candidates pose for a group selfie in the Eastman Theatre’s Lowry Hall before the master’s degree ceremony begins. (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • row of students climbing a staircase ONWARD AND UPWARD “Be willing to take risks and step outside your comfort zone,” said Wendi Kuhnert-Tallman ’95M (MS), ’99M (PhD) during her address to this year’s master’s recipients. “It might not always be easy, but it will help you grow and will provide you with many new experiences.” (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • overhead shot of graduates in cap and gown, one cap is decorated with flowers CAP IT OFF Members of the Warner School’s graduating class listen as President Richard Feldman tells them, “The world will be a grateful beneficiary of your talents and your expertise.” (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • student poses on stage with degree GRIN AND SHARE IT Flanked by the Warner School’s new dean Anand Marri, left, and President Richard Feldman, Abraham Jiminez is all smiles after receiving his master’s degree in mental health counseling. (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • graduate holds her diploma up in the air and smiles ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED Doralie Sukhavong strikes a pose with her diploma on stage during the Warner School of Education’s commencement ceremony. (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • graduate looks over a staircase and waves and smiles TOP OF THE LINE Graduates from the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences queue up outside Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre before the Hajim School’s diploma ceremony gets under way. (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • rows of graduates holding their diplomas ENGINEER THE FUTURE During the Hajim School’s diploma ceremony, Daniel Sabbah '74, '78 (MS), '82 (PhD), the recipient of this year's Distinguished Alumnus Award, offered the graduating class the following counsel: "Learn, refine and apply—but also take into account potential societal impacts. Don’t blindly think that just because you have a great idea, it will be used that way.” (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • graduate crosses the stage to receive diploma from professor BODLY GO Diane Dalecki, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, prepares to hand a diploma to one of the newest graduates of the Hajim School. (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • family members wave and laugh to get the attention of crowd of graduates SHOW OF SUPPORT Parents, family members, and loved ones convene on the Eastman Quad post-ceremony to fete the graduates. (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)
  • student poses in crowd of graduates SOMETHING TO CONSIDER “Some of the best preparation you receive will come from unexpected places,” President Richard Feldman tells the Class of 2019. “You probably don't know now what will matter most later.” (University photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

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