Members of the Class of 2023 Encourage Fellow Graduates to Be Resilient, True to Themselves
As part of the University’s morning Commencement ceremony, the Charger community celebrated graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and School of Health Sciences who were among the nearly 3,000 members of the University’s Class of 2023.
May 17, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
As a Charger, Sani’yah Brinney ’23 enjoyed connecting with her fellow members of the University community. She did that through her involvement in myriad organizations on campus.
Brinney, a new political science graduate, grew as a leader throughout her time as an undergraduate student. Founder and vice president of the Women of Color Collective, she served as president of the Undergraduate Student Government Association and as vice president of the Black Student Union during her time at the University. She has fond memories of her time as a student, from connecting with her professors to attending Homecoming.
“I always had a passion to help people and society as a whole, which is what every position I held on campus allowed me to do,” said Brinney, who will pursue her master’s degree at Georgetown University. “Ultimately, bringing people together for a positive purpose is why I continued to seek out leadership positions throughout my undergraduate career.”
'Once you are a Charger, you are always a Charger'
“While it's important to mourn their loss, let us not forget to celebrate their lives, their dreams, and everything they stood for,” said Prateek Mansingh ’23 MHA, president of the Graduate Student Council, as part of a special reflection during the ceremony. “They may not be with us physically, but their spirit lives on. They will always be an integral part of our community, as it is true that once you are a Charger, you are always a Charger.”
'Navigate change with confidence and clarity'
Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D., who served as president of the University for 18 years, before being named its first chancellor last year, delivered the Commencement address. He encouraged grads to be contrarians, to do their best to help “clean up the mess” that has been left by previous generations, and to be lifelong learners in the liberal arts and sciences.
Peri Alexander ’23, who earned her bachelor’s degree in health sciences, addressed the Class of 2023 as the undergraduate student speaker. She commended her classmates for their resilience, including persevering during the pandemic. She also shared her own challenges as she pursued her degree, while learning her grandmother was diagnosed with stage VI metastatic breast cancer. At the time, Alexander was taking a full course load, working two jobs, and conducting research.
“One of the ways that I've kept myself going through these four years was by having patience and faith,” said Alexander, who plans to pursue her master’s degree in speech-language pathology. “I kept faith within myself, knowing that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. When I was overwhelmed with back-to-back projects and exams, and I didn’t know how I would find the time to complete my tasks, I had faith that one day all of my hard work would pay off.”
'Hold on to our individuality'
Pearly Ng ’23, who earned her master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology, represented the graduate student body as she addressed the Class of 2023. Ng, who hails from Malaysia, shared her own story of resilience. From adjusting to living in a new country with a very different climate to being away from her loved ones, living in the U.S. while she pursued her education wasn’t always easy, she said.
Ng, who earned her undergraduate degree in Iowa, had never been to Connecticut before beginning her time as a Charger. Still, she says, she found a welcoming community at the University. She endeavored to offer her classmates encouragement and wisdom, urging her fellow graduates to be authentic.
“In a world that is constantly changing, it can be easy to lose sight of who we are,” she said. “The pressure to conform, to fit in, and to go with the flow can be overwhelming. But I urge us to resist this pressure, to hold on to our individuality, and to stay true to who we are. Adapting without losing ourselves is not always easy, but it is worth it. It allows us to grow and evolve while staying true to our roots. It allows us to navigate change with confidence and clarity, knowing that we are staying true to ourselves.”
'A significant role in preparing me for success'
Commencement was an exciting time for Chargers to celebrate their accomplishments with each other, faculty, staff, and their families and friends. Many reflected on their time as students, including the myriad opportunities, connections created, and memories made.
For Muntasir Hossain ’23, his time as a computer science student offered rewarding experiences for him to grow as a leader and a mentor while offering support to his classmates. A tutor in the Center for Learning Resources and a Learning Assistant, he helped his classmates master concepts in his major as well as in mathematics.
A member of the University’s Honors program, Hossain also immersed himself in research opportunities. As part of his Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship project, he analyzed and developed a machine learning algorithm to detect coronary heart disease. He also collaborated with several faculty members on research that included training faculty on integrating the Makerspace into their course content and developing a platform to analyze the opinions of Twitter users. His work has been published in papers and presented at conferences.
As a controls and software engineering intern for the global company Nel Hydrogen, Hossain gained important industry experience and explored networking and router connectivity. Last summer, as a software engineering intern for McDonald’s at their corporate headquarters, he learned about the software engineering industry. He has accepted a position as a software engineer with the company, and he will soon be moving to Chicago to begin his career.
“The University of New Haven played a significant role in preparing me for success,” he said. “I have had amazing professors who were always willing to support and mentor me. Many of my courses were project-based, which allowed me to apply my knowledge and develop tangible products. These projects taught me to be an independent learner and to come up with creative solutions to problems.”