For the first time in three years, the residences organize in-person festivities for senior graduates | New

Members of the College’s Class of 2022 made ceramic tiles, kayaked and enjoyed ice cream during the first in-person graduation festivities since 2019.

After the University commencement exercises on Thursday, each undergraduate house held its own graduation ceremony, at which senior graduates received their diplomas.

House administrators, resident deans and student volunteers planned the celebrations and praised the revival of house spirit and traditions.

Leslie Rith-Najarian ’12, the Resident Dean of Kirkland House, acknowledged the unique challenges facing the Class of 2022 and praised their strength.

“I have tremendous admiration for the perseverance of this graduating class,” she said. “It’s especially meaningful to feel that they all made it to the finish line despite a greater amount of adversity in the last two years of their college experience.”

In March 2020, students were expelled from campus due to the escalating public health crisis, causing the class of 2022 to spend more than half of their college years under pandemic restrictions.

Kirkland House hosted a luncheon for graduate students and their families, with speeches from faculty deans and a photography ceremony.

Samuel “Sam” Murdock ’23, a resident of Kirkland, was among the students who stayed after classes ended to help organize the festivities.

“A lot of it comes from preparing logistical things,” he said, such as preparing the Kirkland House souvenir cards and pins that were distributed to seniors at the house’s graduation ceremony.

With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, houses have been able to resurrect old traditions that they were unable to maintain on Zoom.

In addition to attending a reception, painting murals, going on a kayaking trip and submitting photos for a slide show, residents of Mather House participated in a long-standing tradition: ceramic tile making .

“The whole theme is kind of like, ‘It’s been a while since we’ve done this; let’s see if we can work outside the box and do some of the traditions that we could before,” said Sean O’Connor, Mather’s acting house administrator.

Of the roughly 130 seniors who graduated from Mather, 90 of them made tiles, a tally that “blew us out of the water,” O’Connor said. The students’ creations will soon be displayed on the walls of Mather’s basement, joining the tiles of previous promotions.

The Quincy House faculty deans hosted graduating seniors on their patio for an ice cream party on Sunday and a photo shoot on Monday.

Michael Y. Cheng ’22, who called the house festivities “really fantastic,” said he was looking forward to a life outside the gates of Harvard.

“It’s all coming to an end, and I’m just going through the motions. It’s like a bunch of elaborate ceremonies to leave, basically,” he said. “I don’t think college should be the best four years of your life, and I have a feeling the future has got to be better.”

“I’m sentimental, but I’m ready for what’s next,” Cheng added.

—Editor Isabella B. Cho can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @izbcho.

—Claire Yuan can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @claireyuan33.