Harvard affiliates gathered at Science Center Hall B Friday to commemorate off-cycle 2023 graduates of Harvard College.
The annual event celebrated roughly 200 off-cycle graduates, either November or March degree candidates. Class of 2024 First Marshal Fez S. Zafar ’24 and Second Marshal Chibuikem C. “Chuby” Uche ’24 moderated the event and offered brief remarks at the beginning and end of the ceremony.
Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana encouraged students to embrace their unusual timing of graduation. During the event, he recalled his own experiences as a midyear graduate of Cornell University and credited his off-cycle graduation as the catalyst for taking a risky job at a small technology startup, and indirectly, for meeting his wife.
“Graduating in December was one of the first real unplanned events in my life. However, as it turned out for me and will for you, our unplanned detours can lead to some of the most magical and exhilarating experiences of our lives,” Khurana said.
“I hope we have helped you understand that the unplanned and the serendipitous is part of the learning process. Not your enemy, but a challenging friend,” he added.
In her address, student speaker Megan J. Mackey ’23 reflected on the lessons that she learned at Harvard and reminisced on how exciting it was to step foot on Harvard’s campus for the first time compared to her small hometown in the United Kingdom.
“I discovered that our time is more than just the journey between classrooms and textbooks. It’s been about navigating through a pandemic, standing up for an unconventional school mascot — like a turkey — and forging connections that will last a lifetime,” Mackey said.
The event also featured remarks from Harvard Alumni Association Executive Director Sarah C. Karmon, who welcomed graduates to the HAA and encouraged them to stay involved with Harvard.
History professor Maya R. Jasanoff ’96 called on graduates to think historically about their experiences in order to deal with change and uncertainty. In particular, she pointed to Harvard’s term for graduation — “Commencement” — which refers to a beginning.
“My closing advice to you is to use curiosity as your lodestar,” Jasanoff said.
“In the long game, I guarantee you that the most fulfilling thing is to keep on asking the questions,” she added.
Audience members also included graduates’ friends, family members, and even teammates.
“It was a nice event, it was great to see friends and family out here. My whole team, the club tennis team, came out to support,” midyear graduate Alan J. Tu ’23 said.
Though she walked at Commencement in May, Alma H. Conway ’23 said she enjoyed the ceremony, mentioning the opportunity to gather with classmates.
“Looking around I see familiar faces, memories throughout the past four years,” Conway said.
Tu said he hopes to think of graduation as a beginning rather than an end.
“I’m trying not to say the word ‘last’ too much, because I’m doing a last of everything these last couple of weeks,” Tu said.
“I’m very happy to be a midyear graduate — it is an honor, and I’m very happy with the path I took through Harvard,” he added.