For Weitzman Class of 2022, A Welcome Return to Tradition
A jubilant Class of 2022 filed into Irvine Auditorium on Saturday, May 14, as the Weitzman School hosted its first in-person commencement ceremony since COVID-19 reached Philadelphia. The 296 graduates representing 20 degree programs were poised to enter the professions at a time when the world looks in some ways dramatically different than it was when they began their studies.
Dean and Paley Professor Fritz Steiner said that the students in the Class of 2022 were distinguished by their skepticism, questioning, and curiosity—and also by their ability to plan for and recover from adversity.
“God, you are a resilient bunch!” Steiner said.
In his keynote remarks, the writer and environmental-justice activist Julian Brave Noisecat talked about the significance of names and naming. Noisecat, an Oakland native and a member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq'escen and descendant of the Lil'Wat Nation of Mount Currie, talked about the cultural genocide that European settlers attempted to carry out on the indigenous people of North America. To live in the contemporary US with a last name like his, the meaning of which no living person remembers, is to be “a survivor dangling on the limb of a tree they could not quite chop down,” he said.
“When they call out your name and put a degree in your hand, I want you to think about the ancestors who gave you that name,” Noisecat said. “I want you to think about their deeds—their good deeds and bad deeds and everything in between. I want you to think about your own, and to imagine what it might look like to live your life in such a way that you become an ancestor worthy of having their name and story remembered, passed on, maybe even sung about.”
In addition to the commencement ceremonies, the Weitzman School’s traditional Year End Show opened last weekend and combines a virtual gallery and in-person exhibitions at Meyerson Hall (through June 5) and the Crane Arts Building (through May 28). Also on display in Meyerson Hall is the Hometowns Project, a pop-up project of the Justice and Belonging Committee, curated by Graduate Architecture Lecturer Ariel Genadt, which brings together photos of the faculty and student body’s hometowns, focusing on activities happening in public spaces.
The theme of home was also central to remarks from Hadi El Kebbi (MArch’22), a Master of Architecture graduate who worked with the Polyhedral Structures Laboratory under Assistant Professor of Architecture Masoud Akbarzadeh and was selected by his fellow students to speak at commencement. El Kebbi, a Beirut native who attended Lehigh University for a bachelor’s degree in architecture, thanked his fellow students—“the kindest, funniest, most talented group of people I’ve ever had the honor of meeting”—for the community they built during their time at Weitzman.
“Home is not a geographical location, nor a point on your birth certificate, but a group of people you absolutely love and find solace in,” he said.