The 1,661 members of the Harvard College Class of 2016 graduated on Thursday, each with a unique story of toil and triumph through what many will look back on as the most tumultuous, challenging, and satisfying four years of their lives. For some graduates, it’s the story of another diploma in a generations-long legacy, with high expectations reinforced from birth. For others, it’s the story of the first-ever family member to progress past high school, the culmination of a parent’s dream realized through years of juggling child care and working arduous double shifts.
Photographs make visible the range of emotions felt on this day. Shrieks of exuberance, tears of joy, looks of quiet gratitude, and eyes wide with awe all show on the faces of these graduates. Photos, too, confirm their diversity, representing all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, and 51 countries, as well as the Oneida Nation within this country. Including the graduate schools, there were 7,727 degrees awarded. The grads are Muslim and Jew, Christian and Buddhist, raised on Park Avenue and in a cabin in the Appalachians, ranging in age from 16-70 (in the Extension School). They are bonded by their Harvard experience and woven together in the splendid tapestry that is Commencement.