Carnegie Mellon University
May 26, 2017

Congratulations, Class of 2017!

Shaune Marx delivers a 2017 commencement speech.

Fearlessness and the modern message of an English degree summed up English Department Head Andreea Ritivoi’s message at the May 20 diploma ceremony.
“If or when you find yourself afraid, remember that fear is a mark of intelligence, of awareness and of humbleness,” Ritivoi said. “Those are your defining characteristics, and the qualities of a true intellectual leader.”
Social urgency, finding placement in the world post-Carnegie Mellon University, and gratitude were weaved throughout the speeches and the graduating class.

Andreea Ritivoi delivers a speech at the 2017 commencement ceremony.“What amazes me about our class of 2017 is their intellectual sophistication and broad-mindedness, coupled with deep social responsibility and an awareness of today’s difficult problems,” Ritivoi said.
For Katie Henry, who received her master’s degree in rhetoric, the 2016 presidential election formed her time at CMU.
“Our experience with the election in the fall is one of many examples of how our education in rhetoric has prepared us to think deeply and critically about the world surrounding us, showing us the structures and theories that help explain so much about the ways people communicate with each other,” Henry said. “While the 2016 election raged on and saturated the media, we studied race and enemy construction, the motives and structures behind propaganda, the art and arrangement of argument, the rhetoric of science, and the irreversible impacts of new media.”
With the guidance of faculty and staff, students were able to maneuver through social shifts and discover why English majors are societally important.
“The first class I ever took in creative writing was my freshman seminar, Creative Writing Matters, taught by Jim Daniels,” said Emmett Eldred, who graduated with a major in creative writing and additional majors in professional writing, and ethics, history and public policy. “Four years later, I know that this is true: Creative writing matters, because creative writers master two skills from which the world around us suffers a major deficit. The first is listening. The other skill is expression.”
Professional writing graduate Shaune Marx believes the versatility of her degree is what will help her most after graduation.
“When I got to CMU, I still hadn’t figured out what I wanted to be,” said Marx, who graduated with an additional major in creative writing. “This program has outfitted all of us with more flexibility than any other program I know of, and that is truly the beauty of the professional writing major. With this degree, we don’t have to come up with one definitive answer for what we want to be when we grow up. We can change our answers again and again, until we finally find an answer that fits us and our diverse passions.”

Two decorated hats read

This theme echoed with technical writing and communication graduate Kristina Wagner, who remarked that the magnificence of CMU and the English Department is the versatility of interdisciplinary behavior.
“The students in the English Department are interested more than just writing,” Wagner said. “We’re passionate about something very special and unique to us. I have classmates who are truly exceptional cooks and classmates who are interested in securing access to healthy food for all socioeconomic groups through sustainable city gardens.”
Discovering new interests and career paths is something not limited to undergraduate students. Masters in literary and cultural studies graduate Sarah Idzik arrived to CMU unknowing of rhetoric as a field of study. After attending CMU and classes taught by Ritivoi and others in the Rhetoric Program, Idzik will be pursuing her Ph.D. in the field this fall.
“I want to thank the English Department faculty and all of my professors in LCS and Rhetoric for giving me the year that changed the course of my life,” Idzik said.
“Our faculty gave us the skills to understand the contexts in which we find ourselves and to adapt,” said Stephen Epple, who graduated with a bachelor of science in technical writing and communication and an additional major in English.
Someone who has already found his career path, Michael Cunningham, a full-time CMU staff member in the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy’s Marketing Department, urged other staff members and professionals to pursue a degree in the Master of Professional Writing Program.
“Through the MAPW program, I have obtained skills in writing, user testing, communication design, and multimedia storytelling that I never imagined I had the capacity to learn. These skills have been invaluable to be as a marketing professional,” said Cunningham.
“Over the years, your passion, your eloquence and your logic not only impress me, but also fill me with hope,” Ritivoi said. “Your poems, your technical reports, your political journalism, your science writing and your teaching will make a difference in the world.”

View photos from the English Department Diploma Ceremony.

Check back for video footage from the event!

The Class of 2017 at CMU English includes:

-Two PhD in Literary and Cultural Studies
-Six PhD in Rhetoric
-15 MA in LCS
-5 MA in Rhetoric
-17 MAPW
-11 BA in CW
-1 BA in Eng
-7 BA in PW
-4 BS in Technical Writing and Communication
-7 BHA
-11 Additional Majors
-17 Minors

by Stefanie Johndrow

Pictured top: Shaune Marx delivers a speech on behalf of the Professional Writing Program.
Pictured right: Department Head Andreea Ritivoi addresses the graduating class and their families and friends.
Pictured left: Two students show off their decorated graduation caps.