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HGSE Celebrates Commencement 2022

The HGSE community came together — for its first in-person Commencement in three years — to celebrate the accomplishments of 1,016 graduating students
Graduate in mortar board
A graduate waits for the day's festivities to begin on Appian Way Commencement morning
Photo: Jill Anderson

For the first time since 2019, graduates in their mortarboards and gowns lined up on Appian Way, preparing to step into the sunshine and across the stage to accept their diplomas. This year’s Commencement ceremony served as a powerful reminder that despite the past few months and years marked by the pandemic, social injustice, declining faith in democracy, war, and violence, the 1,016 members of the graduating class of 2022 — and their faculty — still believe in the transformative power of education.   

 Watch HGSE's Presentation of Diplomas and Certificates

In her Commencement address, Dean Bridget Terry Long confessed “that there have also been times when I feel like there is a storm cloud threatening to upend my optimistic outlook.” But, with 958 Ed.M. students, 24 Ph.D. students, 24 Ed.L.D. students, seven C.A.S. recipients, and three Ed.D. students who collectively represent a mix of legacy and new programs, remote and local students, all committed to bettering the future of education, Long found cause for celebration and hope.

“You came to HGSE and are here today because of your passion for improving education …,” said Long. “You — let me rephrase that — we represent the entire education ecosystem, and together that is an impressive force for good.”

As educators, Long continued, the class of 2022 has a crucial role to play in building a better world. Throughout her speech, Long acknowledged that while the education system is plagued by inequities, it remains a fundamental element of a just society, an expression of hope, and a way to bring people together.

Bridget Long
Dean Bridget Long addresses the graduating class of 2022
Photo: Jill Anderson

Dean Bridget Long delivers her Commencement speech to the class of 2022 on May 26

“We are an important backbone for our communities, leaders pushing to help learners of all ages reach their potential,” said Long. “We are inventors, analysts, writers, coaches, and artists who use ingenuity, creativity, and collaboration to create new experiences and discover new ways of advancing learning. We support the vulnerable and help the powerless find their voice, and we foster learning between those who might look differently, speak differently, and worship differently but who nonetheless find commonality in myriad ways perhaps not obvious to the eye.”

For this cohort of graduates, HGSE has provided a community in which to explore new horizons and work toward a better future — they’ve invested in the future of that community, donating the largest class gift on record. “Your generosity will live on in limitless ways as we support yet another cohort of aspiring educators,” said Long. 

Throughout the week’s events, HGSE students and faculty have turned to one another in both celebration and support. At the Convocation ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, 2021 National Teacher of the Year Juliana Urtubey acknowledged the importance of recognizing accomplishments alongside one another, even in the face of tragedy and hardship. “Prevailing also means celebrating; celebrating is part of the rising of our next steps,” she said. “So we celebrate today, knowing our hearts can carry this together.” 

 Watch HGSE's Convocation Ceremony

Urtubey also reminded HGSE community members that carrying hope forward into the world with them is essential to the task of changing that world together. Drawing on her experience as a garden educator, she noted that when the leaves on the vines “are thin enough to make you doubt yourself, doubt your impact,” there is often still joy hidden underground in the bounty under the soil. “Once we understand the power of our humanity and exercise hope, only then are we able to embrace collective work that transforms,” she said. 

The convocation ceremony also recognized community members who have continued to show up for and support their classmates and students throughout the course of the year, including Morningstar Family Teaching Award winner Lecturer Aaliyah El-Amin, student speaker Kim Frusciante, student-selected faculty speaker Senior Lecturer Junlei Li, intellectual contribution award winners from each master’s program, class marshals, the cohort of Equity and Inclusion Fellows, and Phyllis Strimling Award winner Sruti Sriram.

Juliana Uturbey
2021-22 National Teacher of the Year Juliana Urtubey delivers the 2022 Convocation Address
Photo: Jill Anderson

In her closing Commencement remarks, Long sent the graduates off with a reminder that as they collectively enter a period of recovery and healing, they must not forget this is also a tremendous opportunity to reimagine education — and one that they are prepared to take on. “Why?” she said, “Because you are educators, an important and sacred profession. What you do is foundational. You provide hope. You build connection. And the effects of what you do are limitless. And you will not do it alone.  You will always be a part of HGSE, a community of educators.”

Commencement week festivities will continue into this weekend, when HGSE’s classes of 2020 and 2021 come together on campus for events recognizing their perseverance and academic accomplishments. After celebrating their own commencements virtually in 2020 and 2021, graduates will finally gather under the tent in Radcliffe Yard, where they will have the opportunity to hear their names called and walk across the stage. On Sunday, exercises for all 2020 and 2021 Harvard graduates will be held at the Tercentenary Theatre in Harvard Yard. This ceremony will include an address from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland ’74, J.D.’77.

Watch the live stream of the HGSE Commencement Ceremony for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 on Saturday, May 28


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