Carnegie Mellon University
May 15, 2022

CMU Celebrates Historic Commencement Weekend

By Jean Hayes

Peter Kerwin
  • University Communications & Marketing
  • 401-834-2029
Ryan Scarpino
  • University Communications & Marketing
  • 412-268-2902

Carnegie Mellon University undergraduate and graduate students from the Classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022 celebrated their achievements at the 124th Commencement in Gesling Stadium, May 13-15. Faculty and students from Carnegie Mellon's other locations around the world, including Silicon Valley, Rwanda, Qatar and Australia could view the events via livestream.

Farnam JahanianCMU President Farnam Jahanian (left) conferred 5,364 degrees for the Class of 2022 and congratulated alumni from 2021 and 2020 who returned to CMU to participate in person after their respective commencement ceremonies were virtual or altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"To the Class of 2022 and the classes that came before you: After your years as graduate students at CMU, you each have left an indelible mark on this community," Jahanian said at Friday's ceremony. "You engaged in intense scholarly pursuits and were deeply immersed in your discipline ... You demonstrated what interdisciplinary learning in the 21st century looks like — creative, daring and full of unexpected discoveries."

Friday's ceremony for graduate students — master's and Ph.D.'s alike — featured a keynote address from Manuel Heitor, former minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education for the Government of Portugal and a professor at the Institute Superior Técnico at the University of Lisbon. Heitor also played an essential role in developing the CMU-Portugal program. Heitor received an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology and Science.

"[You should] guarantee that your parents and the parents of your friends really don't understand what you are doing," Heitor told the graduates. "[This] is probably the best indicator of progress in any society. It means each generation explores new things, and has the collective opportunities to do so. It is a generational changing movement in a dynamic and continuously learning environment."

Student speaker Vijay Adipudi, who graduated with an MBA from the Tepper School of Business, spoke about navigating academic careers through much uncertainty.

"All of us here have been affected by the pandemic. Many of us started off our programs completely remote and missed a lot of quintessential CMU experiences," Adipudi said. "Because of these challenges, we are exceptionally positioned and equipped with the tools to tackle uncertainty in our careers and our lives, whether it be issues regarding global pandemics, geopolitical conflicts or any number of societal issues."

Mansi Goyal, who graduated with a master's degree in artificial intelligence and innovation, voiced the collective excitement of the crowd.

"Every single student here is proof that if your heart is in your work, you can overcome any challenge that comes your way. I am honored to be graduating — in person, finally! — with some of the most resilient students CMU has ever seen."


Commencement 2022
Click right to scroll through images from this year's Commencement Weekend.

Saturday's Ph.D. hooding ceremony was canceled due to a severe weather forecast for the afternoon. Doctoral graduates were hooded at their respective college, school or department diploma ceremonies. Hooding ceremonies recognize the tremendous achievements made in research by doctoral graduates.

On Sunday CMU undergraduates gathered to celebrate their commencement.

“It feels amazing,” said Andrew Thompson, who received his bachelor’s degree in engineering and public policy (EPP). “It feels like all my hard work is being celebrated and I’m so happy to be with friends, family and everyone who has supported me.”

Student speaker Lisa Oguike's remarks reflected the challenges of the past two years.

"Though our college years have been filled with such constant and consistent chaos ... we made it," said Oguike, who graduated with a double major in international relations and politics and EPP. "Through the bumpy ride, we weathered the storm, remained flexible, resilient, thrived in ambiguity, held onto each other and made it to our destination."

CMU alumnus, honorary degree recipient and keynote speaker Billy Porter spoke about his times as a student at the university: "The challenges you learned to navigate in the years here prepared me for the challenges that I would now have to navigate for the rest of my life. My times here were magical, and I thank you for that."

He also promised the audience his speech would contain the truth and, leaning heavily into his childhood religious upbringing, reminded them repeatedly that the truth would set them free. Porter shared the societal challenges that he faced as a Black, gay and HIV-positive man and artist, and that choosing to embrace his truths allowed them to become his strengths. "What happens when your personal truth is not a truth that's popular? You lean into your truth anyway."

Billy Porter
Billy Porter shared his message at CMU's 124th Commencement. 

Later, he rallied attendees with his renditions of civil rights anthems like "We Shall Overcome" and issued a call to action to "ignite a fire and passion in your bodies, minds and spirits for service." Removing his graduation robe, he revealed a message emblazoned across his clothes — VOTE.

"The work never stops. We must stay present, we must stay vigilant for our entire lives," he said. "This is the new message so we don't get tired, so we don't get fatigued. There's too much at stake. Democracy is at stake."

"What will you do?" he added. "Who will you be?"

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