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As it Happened: Harvard Commencement 2023
Ahead of Harvard Commencement, Graduating Students Celebrate Accomplishments with Affinity Ceremonies
Following morning Commencement proceedings in Tercentenary Theatre, graduating seniors returned to their residential houses Thursday to receive their diplomas at small ceremonies featuring food, photographs, and abundant house pride.
Earlier in the day, seniors and graduates across the University heard a keynote address from actor Tom Hanks and remarks from outgoing Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow.
The house ceremonies — which returned last year following a three-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic — also highlight awards and academic honors earned by house residents.
At the Adams House ceremony, convened beneath a tent on the Malkin Athletic Center lawn due to ongoing renovations, Adams Resident Dean Salmaan A. Keshavjee acknowledged the complex emotions that come with graduation.
“We know that a moment like this is bittersweet because Adams is a really special place inside another special place, Harvard College,” Keshavjee said to graduates.
“The commencement, as the word suggests, is a new beginning. The launching pad for one’s dreams, aspirations, and the chance to engage with the world in a meaningful way” he added.
Leverett House senior Ayah Al-Zubi ’23 said she felt “disbelief” as she sat in the audience during the ceremony.
“I cannot express how much pride and celebration I have, for my ancestors, my people before me, who dreamed of this place, and we’re here now and we’re doing it on their behalf,” Al-Zubi said. “This is for my family, and I hope they’re proud of me, and that’s honestly all I could ever ask for.”
At his ceremony, Quincy House senior Benjamin T. Rossen ’23 also said he found it “very rewarding” to be surrounded by his family throughout Commencement.
“My parents love to come up to campus, but just have everyone here — it’s very heartwarming,” Rossen said. “We’re very proud.”
Like other aspects of Harvard house life, the ceremonies are colored by specific traditions. Years past have featured mural painting, kayaking trips, and ceramic tile-making.
Benjamin R. Meron ’23 said he enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate the day with a more familiar crowd at the Adams House event.
“It’s really special to have the ceremony together with the Adams House community, where you really get to know a large portion of the faces that you see on the stage,” Meron said.
—Staff writer J. Sellers Hill can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SellersHill.
—Staff writer Nia L. Orakwue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @nia_orakwue.
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