Carnegie Mellon University
June 07, 2023

INI Diploma Ceremony 2023 Celebrates Resilience and Achievements of Newest Graduates

By Evan Lybrand

INI Communications Team

On May 14, 2023, the INI held its annual diploma ceremony, a time-honored tradition that brings together graduates and their families from around the world to celebrate their hard-earned master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University. Friends, family and supporters gathered at Rodef Shalom to cheer on 185 of the 271 members of the record-breaking class of 2023.

dena_graduation.jpgIn her annual address to the graduates, INI Director and Barbara Lazarus Professor in Information Networking, Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis, referenced the dedication and hard work demonstrated by the students who now join a community of over 2,700 INI alumni. Haritos Tsamitis also acknowledged the ever-changing global landscape that our graduates are entering: “You are entering into a different world than the one you encountered when you started the pursuit of your master’s degree.  The pandemic and its aftermath have left many industries struggling and competition for positions may be fierce.”

However, despite these challenges, Haritos Tsmaitits encouraged the graduates, “You have persevered through difficult challenges, tackled complex problems, and expanded your mindset, knowledge and expertise.”

“These experiences have taught you to be steadfast, agile and adaptable. You have learned to be resilient, and this will serve you well in any career path you choose.”

Haritos Tsamitis encouraged the graduates to remain adaptable and resilient in the rapidly changing job market. “I encourage you to keep your focus on the big picture,” she said, “embrace every opportunity, stay curious and never stop learning.”

She went on to reinforce that this is just the beginning, “Your INI journey does not end here. It is just beginning. I can’t wait to feel the impact you have on the world.” Haritos Tsamitis then introduced the commencement keynote speaker, Rohyt Belani, Chairman and CEO of the email security company COFENSE Inc which serves nearly half of the Fortune 100 and nearly 400 Fortune 1000 companies.

Belani is a member of the 2002 INI graduating class and was recently nominated to Carnegie Mellon University’s 2023 class of the Tartans on the Rise, a prestigious honor celebrating recent alumni who are making an impact in their organizations and communities.

As he started his speech, Belani shared an insight with the graduates, “I do have some good news and some bad news before I go there though. The good news is that you have no more tests, no more grades, you’re done with that. The not so good news is that life is one heck of a long exam and there isn’t an answer key.”


He went on to share his experience and challenges during his time at the INI and reminded the graduates about the many skills they’ve gained, “Let’s take a moment to reflect on your experiences here. Academics aside, you know the real world is tough. But I’ll tell you, you guys are tough too. You’ve been in this resiliency gym here, called Carnegie Mellon and the INI. You’ve been working out that tenacity muscle for a bit here. You’ve built confidence. And it goes without saying, you’ve amassed technical skills most people can only dream of having.”

At the conclusion of his speech, Belani gave one last encouraging word about the future.

“So, as you enter this next phase of your life, just make the most of this head start you have. Make Carnegie Mellon proud, make the INI proud, make your families proud, and I’d say most importantly, make yourselves proud.”

Congrats to all INI Student Award nominees!

  • Kanishka Bandaru
  • Neel Bhavsar
  • Hery Howland
  • Tianjian Huang
  • Minhao Jin
  • Harrison Leinweber
  • Jiarui Li
  • Shouxu Lin
  • Chen Lu
  • Kuber Nandwani
  • Palash Oswal
  • Prerit Pathak Zeyu Wang
  • Siqi Xie
  • Weijia Yan
  • Jinze Zhang

Student Award Recipients

Neel Bhavsar

Outstanding Student Service Award for a Teaching Assistant
Nominated by Dr. David Varodayan and Dr. Patrick Tague 


“In just 16 months as a student at the INI, Neel has made significant contributions to four of our courses. I know of no other TA who has ever made such contributions to so many courses at INI.”

Weijia Yan

INI Leadership Award
Nominated by Dr. David Brumley


“In my opinion, leadership is a multifaceted skill that requires an individual to be adaptable, resilient, and capable of inspiring others. I believe one key component of effective leadership is the ability to communicate ideas and visions clearly and persuasively through public speaking and maintaining a visible presence. Public speaking allows a leader to articulate their vision, inspire confidence, and rally people around a common goal. A hallmark of effective leadership is the willingness to take risks and put oneself out there, embracing vulnerability and stepping into the spotlight to champion the shared vision. In my tenure as a professor, I’ve not encountered anyone who exhibits these qualities like Weijia.”

Shouxu Lin

Outstanding Student Service Award for a Research Assistant
Nominated by Carlee Joe-Wong


 "I have mentored more than 30 M.S. students, from both the INI and Electrical and Computer Engineering, on independent research projects at CMU. Of these 30 students, Shouxu is one of only three who were clearly working at the level of one of my Ph.D. students from the beginning of their projects. I tried to recruit him to my own research group in CMU ECE. I have been extremely impressed with his productivity, creativity, and independence, and I have no doubt that he will continue to display these qualities as a Ph.D. student.”