May 16, 2022
On Sunday, May 15, an unusually warm spring day, Olin College celebrated the Class of 2022 at Commencement in the tent on the Great Lawn.
Hundreds of friends and family members joined Olin faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees and friends to wish Olin’s newest graduates well.
Provost Mark Somerville led the procession of graduates into the tent and welcomed the in-person guests and remote viewers to the ceremony.
Gracey Wilson ’20 continued the Olin tradition of a recent alum serving as Commencement Announcer, reading the 15-word passages each graduate prepared for the day.
In her remarks, Beverly Wyse P’15, Chair of the Olin Board of Trustees, welcomed the graduates and their families on behalf of the board. “You have a degree that is uniquely focused on designing the future and can be applied well beyond the walls of the Olin bubble,” she told the graduates. “I am hopeful and excited to see where you will go.”
Wyse urged the Class of 2022 to invest in their community of people, and to continue to broaden that circle, “because the unique ideas, those that will challenge the status quo and bring new perspective to your life and your mission, are those found just outside your circle.”
Watch the Commencement replay below or on Olin's Youtube.
“Do Good in The World”
In her second Commencement address as President of Olin College, Dr. Gilda Barabino praised the class for their resiliency in managing college life during the pandemic, and for advocating and pushing for change at Olin. “You not only survived, but from what I have observed you have thrived,” she said. “And you did so all while continuing to dedicate yourselves to improving the lives of the people around you.”
Olin’s founding precepts call on all Oliners to ‘do good in the world,’ Barabino reminded the class. “We believe engineering education must not only focus on producing good workers equipped with technical skills, but also on developing good people and good citizens. Class of 2022—you embody these qualities.”
“As a class, you have come together here at Olin representing different backgrounds, races, gender identities, economic circumstances, and shared your life experiences, different perspectives, and unique thinking in ways that enriched each of you and made you more conscientious and thoughtful people, as well as engineers.”
“I urge you to take your passion for improving the lives of others and unleash it on the world,” said Barabino. “Continue to challenge assumptions and push the people and communities around you to be better—and never stop.”
“You are who we imagined Oliners could be”
Dr. Linda Vanasupa, Professor of Materials Engineering, was chosen by the class to speak on behalf of Olin faculty and staff. Vanasupa spoke about the special bond they have with the Class of 2022, sharing that the fall of 2018 was also their first semester at Olin.
“In ordinary times, earning a degree from Olin is a remarkable achievement. And, as we all know, the last four years have been anything but ordinary,” they said. “Time and again, I have watched these people—the humans we call ‘students’ –as they have courageously and generously extended themselves on behalf of others.” Amid the chaos and pressures in the world, they said, the graduates never lost sight of what is important: “one another and our shared condition as humans.”
“You are who we imagined Oliners could be.”
A Class of Transition
Riley Zito brought greetings on behalf of the graduating class and paid tribute to “a dear member of our class and my close friend, Austin, who might have graduated with us today.” Austin embodied the key values of our class, said Riley: “ethics and antics.”
Riley praised their fellow graduates, who learned to adapt to the unknown during the pandemic and returned to campus stronger and more committed than ever to each other.
“We’ve marked a new wave of queer and LGBTQ+ students who are out and happy at Olin. We also helped create and lead organizations for students of different races and cultures,” they said. “I’ve heard from a number of alumni who are amazed at the safe spaces we have fostered since their time.”
“We are part of a legacy of taking on difficult transitions,” said Riley. “Yet beyond weathering the challenges in front of us, our class is the storm. We’re not afraid to shake things up to make way for the new.”
“What problems are you going to solve?”
Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, the longest-serving President in the history of Paul Quinn College, was Olin’s featured 2022 Commencement speaker. During his 15 years of leadership, Paul Quinn has become nationally celebrated for its ability to expand the boundaries of higher education to better serve the needs of under-resourced students and their communities.
In a world that desperately needs Oliners to be the best version of themselves to solve its biggest problems, “what problems are you going to solve?” Sorrell asked the graduates.
We live in a world that feels like it is coming undone, said Sorrell. With democracy under attack, approximately 45 million Americans living in poverty, a staggering wealth gap, police reform needed and racism on the rise, human trafficking, global warming changing our physical world—not to mention the effects of the pandemic that has changed our lives.
This world demands “you become the truest, best version of yourselves,” he said. “That world wants to know, which problems are you going to fix?”
“The willingness to problem-solve is a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom and to lead,” in a world that doesn’t have enough real leaders, to solve our problems with honor, integrity, compassion and love, said Sorrell.
The problems you choose to solve “must be personal,” said Sorrell. “They must speak to your values, to your sense of justice, they must be challenges you are willing to make great sacrifices for,” and he urged the graduates to solve them with humility, courage, a vision and a plan.