Campus & Community

Midyear Commencement commences

2 min read

Graduates celebrate their achievements in special ceremony

While a June commencement in Tercentenary Theatre might bring rain or sweltering heat, students who attended the Dec. 10 midyear graduation celebration had to bundle up against an arctic chill.  But the ceremony itself was a warm and intimate commemoration of the graduates’ accomplishment.

Each year, some Harvard College students graduate out of phase with the academic year, following the summer or fall term.  To celebrate these students’ achievement, a ceremony and reception was held at the Radcliffe Gymnasium.  About 30 students attended the gathering, and 110 graduates were honored that day.

Organized by the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) with the Senior Class Committee, this event has been held for more than 10 years to officially welcome midyear graduates into the alumni association, according to Alexandra Monti, undergraduate coordinator with the HAA.

Nworah Ayogu ’10, first marshal of the Class of 2010, gave the welcoming remarks and emceed the ceremony.  Student reflections were also given by Susan Y. Yao ’09, a social studies concentrator from Cabot House, and Rachel Esplin Odell ’10, an East Asian studies concentrator from Leverett House.

College Dean Evelynn Hammonds, Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies, addressed the graduates and reflected upon the importance of failure in achieving success.

“As you become alumni of this venerable institution, I hope you’ll strive for the promise of success, knowing that you will inevitably fail from time to time, but understanding that good things derive from challenge,” said Hammonds in her remarks.

Ruth R. Wisse, Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and professor of comparative literature, was chosen by the Senior Class Committee to address students.  Wisse acknowledged that students are graduating when the job market is tight and the world is uncertain, but that Harvard students will rise to the occasion.

“Having come to know the undergraduates at Harvard, I am really certain that you will respond to challenge with determination and unprecedented creativity,” Wisse said in her address.

Degrees are not given during the informal ceremony — students receive their degrees in May — but family and friends are invited to attend.

“Personally, I have gotten to know a lot of the graduates over the past three and a half years,” said Ayogu.  “These are my classmates and friends, and it’s an honor to celebrate today before they go off into the world.”