“You are our future,” painter and poet Raja Changez Sultan ’72 told Trinity College’s Class of 2022 graduates during his commencement address on Sunday, May 22. “You are the new faces of our visionaries and dreamers; our scientists and scholars; our conservationists and planners; our poets, painters, musicians and dancers; our educators, engineers and doctors; you are the future mark of our politicians with the motivation to move mountains. As such, you are undoubtedly destined to play a major role in moving us forward.
A crowd including family members, alumni, faculty, staff, students, administrators and other guests gathered on the main quadrangle on a hot day to see more than 520 students receive their diplomas . Of the undergraduates, 320 earned a Bachelor of Arts and 188 earned a Bachelor of Science. Six of the undergraduate degree recipients were Individualized Diploma Program (IDP) students. In addition, 14 graduate students earned master’s degrees.
Sultan, an internationally acclaimed Pakistani artist, was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts in recognition of his distinguished career and his dedication to a fairer society for his home country and for the world. He gave advice to graduates remotely before reading an excerpt from one of his poems. “Aim to build bridges instead of creating chasms,” he said. “The diversity you find around the world is our collective strength.” Sultan implored the Class of 2022 to strike a balance between power and wisdom and avoid shortcuts. “Success has always come through dedication, hard work and commitment,” he added. “May your journey be long and worthwhile, and may each of you leave an indelible mark on the sands of time.”
Honorary degrees were also awarded to Lloyd Alexander Lewis Jr. ’69, the first African-American from Alexandria, Va., to be ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church, and Cornelia Parsons Thornburgh ’80, the first female chair of the Trinity College Board of Trustees. Click here to learn more about honorary degree recipients.
As a graduating class of 2022 who was selected as a student speaker, Renita Washington noted how she and her classmates persevered through difficult times. “In the spring of our second year, we were all hit hard by a global pandemic and conversations about racial inequality. We were all hit. But if I say it myself, we persisted. It wasn’t not easy to cope with all that life has brought to us,” she said.
“Today we celebrate our successes,” Washington added. “Looking back on all the ways we’ve persisted, I know we can live with the unknown and make the best choices for our well-being.” She told her fellow graduates to be an integral part of the communities that support them in pursuing their dreams. Washington concluded, “No matter where life takes us, we must remember to breathe, remember who you are, remember we are not alone, and, with our heads held high, own it because, class of 2022, we did it!”
In her accountability to graduates, Trinity President Joanne Berger-Sweeney encouraged members of the Class of 2022 to use their voices and education to empower others. “That’s the essence of education,” she said. “It’s not just about how you use education to improve your life, but how you will use it to improve the lives of others. This idea explains why we say education is a public good: it’s not just the job you get; that’s how society will be better because you’ve done your studies.
Berger-Sweeney added: “So remember, at Trinity – as in all of life – your voice is more than what you say; that’s what you do. … We here at Trinity want you to create a better world because you have been educated, transformed and empowered in this very special place called Trinity College.
As degrees were awarded, the valedictorian and salutatorian for the class of 2022 were recognized for outstanding academic achievement. Daniel Jacob Nesbitt, of Ohio, who earned a BS major in public policy and law and chemistry, was named valedictorian; Nayantara Ghosh of India, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree with a major in political science and urban studies, in addition to a minor in religious studies, was appointed as a salutatorian.
Following graduation, Trinity College Alumni Association President Jamie Tracey Szal ’06 welcomed the graduates to the Trinity Alumni Community. “You may be leaving campus, but you’ll still be family,” Szal said. “Wherever you land, the elders – 30,000 – are there: ready, waiting and eager to support you as you step out into the world.”
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Board Chair Lisa G. Bisaccia ’78 presented awards for excellence to faculty, staff, and students. The Trustee’s Award for Outstanding Faculty went to Paul E. Raether, Davarian Baldwin Professor Emeritus of American Studies and Adrienne Fulco Associate Professor of Legal and Policy Studies. The Trustee’s Award for Staff Excellence was presented to Sonia E. “Penny” Lawrence, athletic equipment manager, and Lisa P. Kassow, director of Trinity Hillel. The Trustee’s Award for Student Excellence was awarded to Class of 2022 graduates Alicia Maria Camuy and John D. Hayes Jr.
Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Sonia Cardenas, honored several faculty members for their dedication to Trinity academic life. The Thomas Church Brownell Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2022 has been awarded to Brownell Professor of Philosophy Dan E. Lloyd. The Dean Arthur H. Hughes Award for Achievement in Teaching for 2022 was awarded to Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Gabriel F. Hornung and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Ewa Syta.
Honorary degree recipients
Awards and Honors
Video: How the Class of 2022 contributed to “a better campus community”