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Local Residents Receive Degrees at 151st WPI Commencement


WORCESTER, MA - Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) President Laurie Leshin and Board of Trustees Chairman Jack Mollen presided over the university's 151st Commencement celebration, awarding over 1,019 bachelor's degrees and 850 master's and doctoral degrees during the university's ceremony.

Graduate Degrees

  • Kaung Myat San Oo of Tewksbury, Mass., was awarded a master of science degree in electrical and computer engineering.

  • Zhenyu Wan of Tewksbury, Mass., was awarded a master of science degree in robotics engineering.

This year's graduate address was given by Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In his remarks, Hrabowski expressed his excitement at being asked by his longtime friend, Laurie Leshin, to speak at WPI'sgraduate commencement. "I've been watching the progress of WPI for a long time," he said. "You're a national leader in project-based learning, and you're the alma mater of Robert Goddard. In my area, that's a big deal."

WPI awarded honorary degrees to Hrabowski and to Kevin O'Sullivan, who recently retired as president and CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives.

In her remarks, President Leshin congratulated the Class of 2019 for "enduring stress, overcoming setbacks, and pushing boundaries." As students leave campus with a degree, Leshin said she anticipates they will continue to "break barriers and open new doors."

Graduate student speaker Doreen Manning then gave her remarks. Manning, who received her master's of business administration, told her fellow graduates that she took an indirect route since "earning a master's degree had simply not been on my career radar."

Manning said her worldview is different now.

"So as I leave the podium today, I will do so not only with a diploma, but with new insights into myself and my role within the world," Manning said. "Yet even more important, when I meet with alumni in my position as editor of the WPI Journal, I get to tell them, with pride, 'I'm an alum, too!' "

Bachelor's Degrees

  • Matthew Araujo of Tewksbury, Mass., was awarded a bachelor of science degree in biology and biotechnology with distinction.

  • Eva Barinelli of Tewksbury, Mass., was awarded a bachelor of science degree in robotics engineering with high distinction.

  • Toni Joy of Tewksbury, Mass., was awarded a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering with high distinction.

  • Erin Morissette of Dracut, Mass., was awarded a bachelor of science degree in physics with high distinction.

WPI President Laurie Leshin and Board of Trustees Chairman Jack Mollen presided over the celebration, at which the keynote address was given by Ellen Stofan, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

In her remarks, Stofan lauded the graduating seniors, whom she called "the next generation of STEM innovators," before pointedly asking, "Where do you go from here?" She noted that students are graduating 50 years after the Apollo 11 Moon landing on July 20, 1969. The historic milestone was spurred, in part, Stofan noted, by the challenge President John F. Kennedy placed before Congress in an address in May 1961.

Stofan, who has more than 25 years of experience in space-related organizations and a rich background in planetary geology, also received an honorary doctor of science degree.

WPI awarded Gordon Hargrove, executive director of Friendly House in Worcester, an honorary doctor of humane letters degree for his "distinguished leadership of a vital Worcester institution, his passion for making miracles happen in the lives of others, and his inspiring example to generations of WPI students, faculty, and staff."

President Leshin told the graduates that while she is sad to see them go, she and the campus community feel a great sense of pride in all of their accomplishments at WPI. "Over the past four years, we have all watched, and hopefully helped you discover, your passions and strengths, we've seen you work very hard, and we've seen you truly make a difference."

Class speaker Emily Molstad, of Newington, Conn., a major in mechanical engineering with materials science and engineering, recalled for her classmates the "nine words we heard when we arrived, and over and over again throughout our four years here: Go to class. Do the work. Ask for help. These words, repeated so often, weren't always easy to practice day to day, but once we followed them, they put us on the path to success." 

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a global leader in project-based learning, is a distinctive, top-tier technological university founded in 1865 on the principle that students learn most effectively by applying the theory learned in the classroom to the practice of solving real-world problems. Recognized by the National Academy of Engineering with the 2016 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education, WPI's pioneering project-based curriculum engages undergraduates in solving important scientific, technological, and societal problems throughout their education and at more than 50 project centers around the world. WPI offers more than 50 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs across 14 academic departments in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts. Its faculty and students pursue groundbreaking research to meet ongoing challenges in health and biotechnology; robotics and the internetof things; advanced materials and manufacturing; cyber, data, and security systems; learning science; and more.

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