May 17, 2018

Many ceremonies, big and small, in three days. Over 1,450 degree recipients. More than 10,000 visitors on campus.

Graduation ceremonies are often described by the numbers, especially those held at schools with pi in their names. While the numbers are impressive, something that makes Commencement (well, Commencements) is the stories. The celebrations, the relief, the happiness that come with finally being able to grasp years of hard work in hand. From the students, faculty, parents, friends, and staff present over the past few days, here's a glimpse at Commencement in their own words.


"Graduation day always strikes me with the possibility of rebirth—the hope that our old, broken world can be remade in a more generous spirit by a new generation empowered with knowledge, confident in their abilities, and inspired with a sense of purpose. I love WPI graduation day!" —Kristin Boudreau, Paris Fletcher Distinguished Professor of Humanities; Head, Department of Humanities and Arts, and 2018 recipient of the Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship

“This is so exciting, and I am so proud of him.” —Maryam Razavi (whose husband, Payam Razavi, earned a PhD in mechanical engineering) with their children Melody (1) and Nika (6)

“I'm excited to see the looks of my family and friends when they see me in uniform as I continue on with the next step of life.” —Anderson DeRosier, chemical engineering, submarine warfare officer. At the ROTC Commissioning ceremony, he received his first salute from his best friend from high school, Hayden Bellamy.

“This is a later-in-life accomplishment for me, and I was a little hesitant to even come today. But this ties a nice bow on this. We ended a month ago and it didn’t feel final. This does.” —Janna Muhlhausen, MBA through Biogen (left)

“Graduation is a combination of all the hard work we put in and the relief that we are done.” —Megan Goodnow, MBA through Biogen (right)

“Commencement is about interacting with the students today. We just had six different students present six different versions of WPI. Seeing each of them tell their stories of the whole WPI experience—that is today.” —Wole Soboyejo, Bernard M. Gordon Dean of Engineering and Professor of Engineering Leadership

“It’s still exciting to see the students we worked with over the years. You grow a bond. It’s a family kind of thing.” —Kelly Foley, Facilities (middle)

“I'm looking forward to celebrating everything that I’ve worked for and dreamed of over the past four years; it’s all finally happening.” —Kenedi Heather, computer science, cyber second lieutenant U.S. Army. At the ROTC Commissioning ceremony, she received her first salute from her pastor, gunnery sergeant James Hopkins.

“Looking around and seeing all the people you went to class with, you did clubs with. You see that this could be the final time with them, but you’re happy you get to finish it with the people you started it with.” —Connor Willgress, mechanical engineering

“It’s such a tremendous honor to lead our students over Earle Bridge and into the next phase of their careers and lives. It’s a highlight of my time at WPI and a moment I’ll certainly never forget!” —Natalie Farny, assistant teaching professor of biology & biotechnology and 2018 recipient of the Board of Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Teaching

“I’ll remember being here and accomplishing my degree as an engineer. My children (ages 5 and 10) are here. This gives them motivation and maybe someday they will be here.” —Saida Elfaquir, MS, power systems engineering

“We’re so excited ... we can feel the energy—the kids have worked so hard to get here. That’s what I’ll remember most, and I brought my son’s beanie from freshman year; we’re going to get a picture of him wearing it, with Gompei. Every year when he moves in, we’ve taken a picture next to Gompei, showing the progression, so this is going to be the conclusion.” —Shelley Murphy (whose son, Patrick, earned a double major in computer science and robotics engineering)

“I remember when I graduated and I know for me it was a really amazing experience, so just being able to help facilitate that for other families and students is really why I enjoy doing this.” —Jake Goldblum, complex coordinator, the Housing & Residential Experience Center

“I have a lot of friends who are seniors and are graduating. I’d rather be doing something instead of just watching the ceremony. I am happy for all my friends, and I know this will be me next year. I only have one year left, and I have to take advantage of it.” —Celeste Marsan ’19, usher (chemical engineering)

“The feeling of accomplishment.” —Kelsey Leigher, architectural engineering

“Being done with four years of hard work and getting to see it all pay off.” —April Locke, environmental engineering

“I’ll always think of 2 am in the library and that winter storm! Today, it’s hard for me to imagine I have my master’s in math from WPI, one of the hardest schools. I am proud.” —Zhenyan Lin, MS, financial mathematics

“I’m excited to celebrate with my friends and roommates. We are all in the same program. It has been a great opportunity to bond and learn together. But I will still be here. I am continuing here for my PhD.” —Kenechukwu Mbanisi, MS, robotics engineering

“This is just a really exciting conclusion for the last 5½ years. And to make it official. It’s taken a lot to get to this point.” —Hannah Strobel, PhD, biomedical engineering


“We’re proud of the students, we hope they excel, and it’s an honor to keep everyone safe today.” —WPI Police Officer Brian Lavallee

"Ruff." —Bella