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Scenes from the 2024 School Commencement Ceremonies

Schools across Tufts presented degrees to more than 3,600 graduates during individual ceremonies throughout the afternoon

Throughout the day on May 19, individual degree ceremonies and luncheons were held by departments in the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, and the graduate and professional schools. Long into the afternoon, cheers and applause could be heard in tents and auditoriums across the Medford/Somerville campus and as far away as Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton as names were called and graduates accepted their hard-won degrees. 

The Fletcher School

At The Fletcher School, Afghan human rights activist Sima Samar used her keynote remarks to urge graduates to promote human rights and education and tackle problems such as poverty and climate change.

Samar, who is a fellow at Fletcher through the Tufts Scholars at Risk program, described providing medical care to vulnerable people and opening schools and clinics in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, even though her husband was forcibly disappeared and she was prevented from receiving her medical degree after the Soviet invasion of her country. 

“If I was able to work in the most difficult country in the world for women ... to promote human rights, then you with your knowledge, skills, passions, and ideas will be able to do much more,” she said. “I encourage you to stand firm to change the tide of militarization, patriarchy, and the destruction of our planet.”

In other remarks, Professor of International Negotiation and Conflict Studies Nadim Rouhana, winner of the James L. Paddock Teaching Award, described teaching about conflict resolution and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a year when the Israel-Hamas war made such discussions particularly challenging.

Rouhana, a Palestinian who was born in Israel, said he aims to promote open intellectual inquiry, foster a respectful and accepting climate for all students, and help them learn to work with others who don’t share their views. 

He expressed his hope that Fletcher graduates will promote international law and diplomacy as tools of conflict resolution that should apply to all nations, not only to serve the interests of the powerful, and “push the world’s political systems and mainstream institutions to be more inclusive, responsible, compassionate, representative, and fair.”

—Heather Stephenson

School of Dental Medicine

The dental school’s D24 Class spent its first semester in 2020 spread across the country, meeting each other and learning via Zoom. “We didn’t drill a plastic tooth until after our first six months,” Class President Zana Hunt recalled. Even once the students gathered at One Kneeland Street, “it was impossible to ignore the impact of the COVID pandemic,” she reminded her classmates. 

Yet, despite that tumultuous beginning, “we thrived,” Hunt said.

Tufts University School of Dental Medicine awarded 233 Doctor of Dental Medicine degrees and 17 Master of Science degrees during a ceremony under a tent—often filled with thunderous shouts and applause—on the Medford/Somerville campus.

Hunt addressed the audience as the first Black class president in the more than 150-year history of the dental school. She and the other D24 class officers also marked the first time that all members of the class executive board were women. 

“As we look to the future, let us carry forward the lessons we learned,” Hunt said. “Let us continue to advocate for justice and equity, and use our skills to make a positive impact on the lives of our patients. We have overcome and persevered.” 

For the subset of students graduating from the DI24 international class—those who have previously earned dental degrees in other countries and have fulfilled the requirements to practice in the U.S.—the theme of perseverance was particularly meaningful.

“Our diverse backgrounds and experiences are the cornerstone of our unique community,” said DI24 Class President Mubashir Sheriff. “Whether escaping war-torn regions or performing dental procedures under challenging conditions, our resilience has been tested.”

Referencing ongoing violence in places such as Gaza, Congo, and Sudan, Sheriff told his classmates: “We as health care professionals are uniquely positioned to uphold humanity and the sanctity of life. Our role extends beyond treating teeth; we are guardians of wellbeing. Let’s go forth and make a difference.”

—Helene Ragovin

The Friedman School

Amid unprecedented levels of hunger and a rapidly changing food system, Tufts graduates must play to their unique passions and strengths to ensure food security and good nutrition for all, said speakers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy’s commencement ceremony the morning of May 19.

Of the 92 students who graduated, 12 received doctorates, 68 earned Master of Science degrees, one completed a Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance, and 11 completed the Master of Science in Nutrition Science and Policy program.

“In addition to the real-time impact of this very uncertain unpredictable [COVID-19] virus, the generational change that is occurring and has occurred is significant. The way we learn, live, work, eat, and even farm, has been transformed,” said keynote speaker Catherine D’Amato, head of the Greater Boston Food Bank. 

She urged graduates to use their education to create lasting change through research and policy. “There is so much you can do if you choose to act with intention to give voice to those that cannot speak,” D’Amato said. “If you ever doubted your ability to help, to make a difference, to make an impact, large or small, doubt no more. Now is your time to act.”

Student speaker Ana Maafs-Rodriguez noted that “we come from different fields of study, from various backgrounds, with unique worldviews, we represent diverse cultures and we come from many countries of origin,” Rodriguez said. 

Dean Christina Economos reminded graduates to keep learning, growing, reflecting, and finding meaning even after leaving school, and said she can’t wait to see what each of them will do. “From nutrition counseling to making discoveries in the lab to innovating in the private sector to developing local food policies, you can and will make difference changing lives and shaping society for the better,” she said.

—Monica Jimenez

School of Medicine MD and Graduate Programs and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Tufts University School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) honored the Class of 2024 in the Gantcher Family Sports and Convocation Center, presenting degrees to 187 graduates of the MD program (including 37 who earned dual degrees) and 38 graduates who earned doctorates or master’s degrees from GSBS. A ceremony honoring the 344 graduates from the School of Medicine’s graduate programs was held later in the day at the Carmichael Quadrangle.

School of Medicine Class of 2024 President Gillian Brandt noted that she and her classmates had already likely conquered any imposter syndrome that crept in over the past four years. 

“Pushing through that self-doubt and uncertainty, as the years went by, something remarkable happened,” Brandt said. “We started to realize that we weren’t faking it at all. We were learning, growing, becoming more competent every day. Those moments of doubt were balanced by moments of success.”

School of Medicine Dean Helen Boucher pointed out that the Class of 2024 didn’t slow down even as they began their education began at the height of the pandemic.

“This class, your class, met the struggle with purpose, with conviction for our values of humanism and professionalism,” Boucher said. “You’ve done so much to advance health justice in our school, our university, and our community through your research, service, and advocacy. You’ve shown us that the struggle is worth it.”

In his first commencement ceremony as dean ad interim of the GSBS, Michael Chin told the Class of 2024 that their leadership is crucial as we face future global health crises and unmet health care needs, encouraging the graduates to “be ambassadors for science to the public at large, and to remind them of the value of science for the public good.” 

At the graduate programs ceremony, Minh A. Phan, who earned a master’s in public health, shared his journey of immigration to the United States as a child and how it impacted his pursuit of a meaningful career. 

“I discovered the most significant breakthroughs occurred when minds from different backgrounds converged,” Phan explained. “It is in this spirit of collaboration that the true potential of health care is realized.” 

Emily Brognano

School of Medicine class president Gillian Brandt, M24, addresses the graduates.
School of Medicine graduate Garfield Walker, M24, celebrates as he takes the stage at the phase II ceremony.
School of Medicine graduate Mia Mologousis, M24, laughs as she is hooded at the phase II ceremony.
A graduate of the School of Biomedical Science is hooded at the the phase II ceremony.
School of Medicine graduate Omar Trad, M24, celebrates after receiving his diploma.

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

The 42nd commencement at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine was celebrated on the Grafton campus with degrees including Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, and master’s degrees bestowed to 139 graduates.

Lois Wetmore, associate professor of anesthesiology, shared three philosophies that have enabled her to find joy and satisfaction in her 40-year career as a veterinarian: Be curious, do kind things for others, and forgive yourself.

“Despite our best efforts, there will be adverse outcomes or an error that we are tempted to shame ourselves over,” she said. “But suffering is stressful, and we must start by forgiving ourselves. Then we must assess the situation and implement changes to reduce the risk of mistakes repeating.”

Assistant teaching professor Adam South told a story about Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and his harrowing adventures in the early 1900s. South encouraged the graduates to, like Shackleton, cherish their failures and bravely face what lies ahead.

“Someday you may find yourself lost on the summit of an icy ridge, hopefully only metaphorically, with hardship behind you and the unknown in front of you. Do what Shackleton did. Link up with your friends and launch yourself into the darkness, armed with what information you have, and hope for the best,” said South.

The student-nominated D.V.M. class speaker was Rebecca Tirabassi, A99, V24, who spoke about starting veterinary school during the COVID-19 pandemic at age 47, which was “one of the scariest experiences of her life.” 

“But you embraced me. You included me in your study groups and kept me up on today's slang so I could try and one-up my kids. I hope you never lose this kindness and generosity. It will keep you human. It will shine through as compassion for your patients and clients,” Tirabassi said. “I've lived a lot of lives, and it has been my privilege to live this one with this class.”

 —Angela Nelson