NEWS: Olin Commencement 2024: Celebrating the Power of Relationships

May 15, 2024

On Friday, May 10, 2024, over 800 family members, faculty, staff, trustees, and guests, gathered on Olin’s Needham, MA campus for Olin’s 19th Commencement Ceremony in a joyful celebration of the Class of 2024.

The College conferred over 100 degrees—its highest number ever—and welcomed the class to the alumni community, which now exceeds 1,400 Olin graduates. 

Chief Marshal Al Sacco, Olin’s Chief Academic Officer and Provost, led the commencement procession into the tent and began the ceremony with a welcome and moment of remembrance to “reflect on the values of our community and on friends and loved ones who are no longer with us.”

Commencement 2024 - Class picture in the Olin O

Members of the Olin College Class of 2024 pose for their class photo on May 10, 2024. Photo by Leise Jones.

Olin President Dr. Gilda A. Barabino noted that the Class of 2024 is the first to complete their four years under her presidency, both having joined the Olin community in 2020. She commended the graduates on their achievements and noted the variety in their planned next steps.

In her remarks, President Barabino referenced Greek philosopher Socrates’ declaration: ‘the unexamined life is not worth living.’ So, she asked, “what is ‘Examined Engineering?’ Examined engineering is engineering for impact, said President Barabino. “It is asking the question ‘Why’ and not just ‘How.’ It is asking ‘Who’ and not just ‘What.’ It is the contextualization of our work within our broader society and world.”

“How do we engineer for impact toward a better world? As engineers we build bridges. And we integrate arts and humanities to make sure they are not bridges to nowhere, but bridges to a brighter, shared future.”

Commencement 2024 - President Gilda Barabino addressing Class of 2024

President Gilda Barabino addresses the Class of 2024 and their families, faculty, staff and guests at the 19th Olin Commencement Ceremony. Photo by Leise Jones.

Commencement 2024 - Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president emeritus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, delivers an inspiring address as Olin’s featured 2024 Commencement speaker. Photo by Leise Jones.

Featured speaker Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president emeritus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, spoke to Olin’s graduates about the importance of dreams, of relationships, and of the joy that comes from “the struggle.”

You and your faculty are our future, he told the audience; “I am walking history.” Hrabowski noted that his own commencement speakers were Shirley Chisholm and Adam Clayton Powell. Their messages, which he shared with Oliners: you are more special than you think you are, and, you are going to do things you never could have imagined.

Following his speech, President Barabino presented Olin’s third-ever honorary degree to Hrabowski in recognition of his embodiment of the Olin community’s ideals and his personification of the Olin spirit. President Barabino described Hrabowski, a longtime friend, as a visionary, “a legend of our time” and “a model for me in my own presidency.”

Commencement 2024 - Jeannie Diefenderfer addressing class of 2024

Jeannie Diefenderfer, Chair of the Olin Board of Trustees, welcomes the graduates and their families on behalf of the board. Photo by Leise Jones.

Jeannie Diefenderfer, Chair of the Olin Board of Trustees, welcomed the graduates and their families, the trustees, and special guests Bill Norden, founding member; Doug Rauch, trustee emeritus; and Rick Miller, president emeritus. Her message to the Class of 2024: “I wish you humility and empathy in every interaction you encounter. I wish you self-reflection and the ability to know when to pause, take a breath and look around you. I wish you self-compassion before you offer compassion to friends and, even more so, to your foe. I wish you unending sense of curiosity in everything you touch. And most of all, I wish you success, however you choose to define it—and contentment to know that you are enough.”

Commencement 2024 - Aaron Blust'24

Aaron Blust, Class Commencement Speaker, addresses classmates on May 10, 2024. Photo by Leise Jones.

Trustee Maia Bittner ’11 welcomed graduates on behalf of Olin’s alumni community, and encouraged them to “lean on us, so we can lean on you, too.” Aaron Blust ’24, nominated by the Class of 2024 to speak on behalf of the graduates, noted his classmates’ hard work and their deep care for each other. “From our first days on campus to our last days here, our class has stepped up to lead and create the community and culture we believe in.”

Commencement 2024 - Alessandra Ferzoco

Alessandra Ferzoco, Assistant Professor of Measurement Science, was nominated by the class to give remarks on behalf of Olin’s faculty and staff. Photo by Leise Jones.

Alessandra Ferzoco, Assistant Professor of Measurement Science, was nominated by the class to give remarks on behalf of Olin’s faculty and staff. To great delight, Ferzoco surprised the graduates with a Commencement buzzword bingo game. She also spoke of her appreciation for the Class of 2024 for bringing their whole selves and asking questions that contributed to community-building. “There is beauty in navigating the confusion, frustration, and path to hope alongside each other.”

The degree conferral was aided by Alisha Sarang-Sieminski, dean of student affairs and professor of engineering, Linda Canavan, registrar and associate dean for academic programs, and Megan Ku ’22, the 2024 commencement announcer, who read the graduates’ 15-words. Each year an alum from a recent graduating class takes on this special role during the ceremony. The tradition of the 15-words dates to Olin’s very first Commencement in 2006 and was incorporated into the ceremony to provide graduates with an opportunity for personal expression.

View, like, comment and share photos from the Commencement photo gallery on Facebook!