Favorite moments from Commencement 2019

Every year, friends and family from around the globe convene in St. Louis to celebrate the immense achievement of those graduating with a degree from Washington University.

The College of Arts & Sciences, Graduate School, and University College offer our warmest congratulations to our newest alumni! Experience a few moments from the 2019 festivities. 

Jump to: Student Speakers, Mortarboards, Prison Education Project Commencement, Graduate Hooding, Wrighton's Final Address


Student Speakers

At the College of Arts & Sciences Recognition Ceremony, Sabrina Wang called upon her fellow graduates to see failures as moments of growth. The following day at the university-wide Commencement, senior class president Joey Vettiankal encouraged his class to embrace their inner superheroes: “I have found my own college experience to be eventful enough to be its own entry in the Marvel cinematic universe,” Vettiankal said. “It even followed the same narrative structure: the origin story, the team-up, the challenge, and the final victory.”

Sabrina Wang, who earned degrees in Neuroscience and in International and Area Studies/International Affairs, addresses her fellow graduates at the 2019 College of Arts & Sciences Recognition Ceremony. 
Senior class president Joey Vettiankal, who graduated with degrees in history and political science, speaks at the 2019 Commencement ceremony.

Read Vettiankal’s full speech in The Source.


The Mortarboards

From lighthearted to deeply moving, messages on mortarboards revealed the sentiments and creativity of Arts & Sciences graduates.

See more photos from the College of Arts & Sciences Recognition Ceremony on Facebook



The First Commencement of Its Kind

On May 22, the Washington University Prison Education Project (PEP) conducted its first Commencement at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific, Mo. Ten students earned associate’s degrees. 

“It awakened something in me that needed to be awakened,” said graduate Kareem Abdul.

Stanley Andrisse, assistant professor at the Howard University College of Medicine, delivers the Commencement address. Photo by Joe Angeles/Washington University in St. Louis.
Barbara Baumgartner, associate director of PEP and a teaching professor in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies in Arts & Sciences; and PEP director Robert Henke, professor of drama and comparative literature in Arts & Sciences, lead the Commencement procession at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center. Photo by Joe Angeles/Washington University in St. Louis.

Read more about the ceremony and graduates in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.



Graduate Student Hooding

For those earning master’s and doctoral degrees, the Graduate School Hooding & Recognition Ceremony represents years of effort to become true experts in their chosen fields. Graduates, families, and mentors together celebrated this momentous occasion.

Sophia Hayes, professor of chemistry, congratulates Yvonne Afriyie on earning her doctorate.


Ninja Turtle Backpack Kid

For the past four years, Demetri Kavadas (aka “Ninja Turtle Backpack Kid”) has been a visible presence on campus with his trademark backpack, stereo, and upbeat attitude. At the College of Arts & Sciences Recognition Ceremony, the Class of 2019 cheered when Kavadas walked across the stage wearing his signature backpack and a giant heart on his chest.

Read Demetri Kavadas’s love letter to WashU in Student Life.


A Fond Farewell

Commencement 2019 was the final graduation ceremony presided over by Chancellor Mark Wrighton. His 24-year legacy will always be remembered, particularly by the Class of 2019.  

“I am grateful that our new graduates show the resolve to work together to assure the future of the Earth,” Wrighton said in his final remarks. He challenged graduates to build upon this resolve and work toward three major goals: address climate change; stop the decline of biodiversity; and realize racial equity.

Read Chancellor Wrighton’s full remarks in The Source.


Non-Stop Smiles

At every ceremony during Commencement week, joy was palpable on the Danforth Campus as graduates, professors, family, and friends celebrated the achievement of graduates. Congratulations to all of Washington University's newest alumni!