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‘Go Fearlessly Forward’

At New Combined Commencement, Thousands of UMD Students Celebrate

By Liam Farrell

Pines on stage at commencement

University President Darryll J. Pines addresses graduates and their guests at Friday’s Commencement ceremony, saying, “Your experience here at the University of Maryland has changed you. It has made you stronger and wiser. The world needs you, and you are ready for it.”

Photo by John T. Consoli

In the beginning of a new tradition, the graduating classes of Summer 2021, Winter 2021 and Spring 2022 came together in a sunshine- (and sweat-) soaked Commencement ceremony at Maryland Stadium this afternoon to celebrate their academic and personal achievements during unprecedented times.

“You made it,” said University or Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. “I and the entire university administration are tremendously proud and grateful for the amount of sacrifices you have selflessly made over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. You have shown tremendous courage, and we are all stronger—and I mean TerrapinSTRONG—for your efforts.”

The outdoor event honored 12,600 members of the graduating classes, including 9,000 bachelor’s, nearly 2,700 master’s and about 900 doctoral degree recipients. The December 2021 commencement ceremony was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the main commencement address, bestselling author and illustrator Jeff Kinney ’93 shared lighthearted stories from his own time as a UMD student, including when he accidentally dyed rain-soaked building columns neon green with flyers advertising his compilation of Diamondback comics. He also encouraged graduates to “see change not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity” and “figure out what kind of work really brings you joy.”

“Your experiences at the University of Maryland have armed you for the righteous battles ahead,” he said. “You didn’t wallow in self-pity. You learned how to attend classes without even getting out of bed. You played a lot of ‘Fortnite.’ You ate all of (your parents’) snacks. You taught us a lot about resiliency, and you made us so incredibly proud.”

M Pease ’22, the student speaker graduating with high honors in psychology, encouraged their classmates to be brave in uncertainty and embrace their imagination and ability to make a better future.

“We will face it with the same courage, tenacity and care we showed in our time here,” they said. “Just be your full and authentic self, take care of each other, and remember that we are all worthy of rest, love and joy—not because we work hard, not because we are college graduates, but simply because of our intrinsic worth as human beings.”

Honorary degrees were also conferred on longtime university benefactors Alma G. Gildenhorn ’53, Joseph B. Gildenhorn ’51 and Barry P. Gossett ’62.

With temperatures rising into the mid-80s, the university sought to keep everyone comfortable by providing free water to the students, selling water at concession stands, placing cooling fans on Capital One Field and on the concourse for guests, and bringing in a cooling bus for anyone needing a dose of air conditioning.

“Today is called a commencement because it is not the end of your journey, but in fact the beginning of your journey,” Pines said. “Your experience here at the University of Maryland has changed you. It has made you stronger and wiser. The world needs you and you are ready for it. With grit, confidence and perseverance, you have learned how to be fearless—and you can now go fearlessly forward.”

Student speaker M Pease leads graduates into commencement ceremony

Student speaker M Pease leads graduates into Maryland Stadium today. In their address, Pease heralded the resilience of the graduates, who supported each other during what they called ongoing, intersecting episodes of trauma—from COVID-19 to racist violence. “I carry both pride that we’ve made it today, and grief for the people and the experiences we’ve lost along the way,” Pease said. (Photo by Hong H. Huynh)

Crowd at commencement

Alums Jeff and Patti Jones hold aloft a giant head cutout of their graduating son, William, a marketing analytics major. (Photo by John T. Consoli)

Students take selfie with Jeff Kinney

With the temperature on Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium hovering in the sultry 80s, main commencement speaker Jeff Kinney ‘93, shown posing with graduates, sympathized with those “dressed in black, heat-trapping nylon tents.” He also regaled the crowd with tales from his student days, when he was inking cartoons for The Diamondback and developing the creative chops that would result in the bestselling “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book series. (Photo by John T. Consoli)

Students with fans at commencement

Some newly minted alums create their own breeze in Maryland Stadium, while others commemorate the day with a selfie. (Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle)

Barry P. Gossett ’62 (left) and Joseph B. Gildenhorn ’51 fist bump at commencement

Barry P. Gossett ’62 (left) and Joseph B. Gildenhorn ’51, shown mid-fist bump, and Alma G. Gildenhorn ’53 were all awarded honorary degrees in recognition of their decades of support and service to the university. (Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle)

Students pose with Testudo at commencement

Beaming graduates surround an icon of their former undergrad days after the Commencement ceremony. (Photo by John T. Consoli)

Graduates jump for photo

Five of the senior marshals, who helped lead the Commencement procession in honor of their academic achievements, leadership and campus involvement, pause post-ceremony for one final cheer. (Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle)

fireworks at commencement

Fireworks burst over Maryland Stadium to mark the close of Friday’s Commencement ceremony, which joined graduates from the classes of August 2021, Winter 2021 and Spring 2022. Many guests watched from the concourse, where cooling fans had been placed to offer relief from the unseasonably high temperatures. (Photo by Hong H. Huynh)

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.