In a two-part series, we revisit the sights and sounds, the moments and memories, of Babson’s 2022 Commencement.
In this first installment, we focus on Babson’s graduating seniors. On a bright morning on a warm May day, hundreds of them gather on Babson’s campus for their graduation ceremony.
Here are some of their stories:
Fernanda Gonzalez ’22 juggles her phone and graduation cap as she tries to avoid a persistent honeybee outside of Webster Center, where her classmates are lining up before the Commencement ceremony.
The fact that graduation is upon her feels unreal. “I still can’t believe it,” she says.
Gonzalez moved from Guatemala with her parents and siblings right before her freshman year in high school. She’s wearing a pair of dangling pearl earrings—one of them seems to have attracted the attention of the bee—which her mother gave her right before her high school graduation. Her grandmother, Gonzalez says, had passed them down to her mother.
“I’ve been wearing them for every special event, like high school graduation, and she wanted me to wear them,” Gonzalez says, finally brushing the bee away without incident.
“I feel like we just got here four years ago, and I think there’s really no other place that I see myself in,” Gonzalez says. “My biggest takeaway is the people I’ve met along the way, and knowing that I have friends from all over the world that I can text at any time.”
Look closely at the graduation gown of Kaity Goodwin ’22, and you’ll notice she’s wearing a small pin in the shape of a beaver. She received that pin because Goodwin performed a special duty on campus—she is one of five graduating seniors who stepped inside the costume for Biz E. Beaver and portrayed the College mascot at events.
The identity of those inside the suit is kept a secret, but toward the end of the school year, all of those graduating seniors were able to reveal their identities. At a bingo event put on by the Campus Activities Board, Goodwin surprised everyone by taking off Biz’s head to reveal herself underneath. The crowd cheered.
“I loved getting to portray our mischievous little beaver,” Goodwin says. “Biz brings such excitement to our campus, and I loved being a part of that.”
“My biggest takeaway is the people I’ve met along the way, and knowing that I have friends from all over the world that I can text at any time.”
Fernanda Gonzalez ’22
Outside of the Babson Recreation and Athletics Complex, near the beaver statue, a group of students gather. They’re all sporting a flashy, thick ring on their hands. “It’s massive,” admits Ryan Black ’22. “We got them all yesterday.”
The students are members of the men’s ice hockey team, and they’re wearing the championship rings they earned for winning the New England Hockey Conference tournament. Admittedly, the clunky ring probably isn’t meant for everyday wear. You wouldn’t want to slip it on to buy groceries, for instance.
But, this being graduation day, the 13 seniors on the team decided this was the perfect opportunity to wear them. “We wanted to wear them together,” Black says. “We have been best friends together for four years.”
The Rodeo Rider
The graduation cap of Yiming Wang ’22 is hard to miss, a mortarboard diorama of leaves, birds, and cotton flowers. He was going for a fall harvest theme. “We had four years of getting the harvest out of our study life,” he says.
In the middle of the cap are the words “suck it up.” Throughout high school, Wang took part in Western rodeo riding, and “suck it up” was something his coach always said.
Eventually, “suck it up” became a sort of mantra to Wang. “I tell myself that when I’m burned out or tired,” he says. “It helps me to keep going. It’s about resilience.”
The Best Friends
Fahme Ibrahim ’22 and Kaseen Smith ’22 stand together on the track at the Webster Center. After connecting four years ago on a Facebook chat for admitted students, Ibrahim and Smith met face to face for the first time on their very first day on campus. They have been nearly inseparable ever since. “It has been a duo type of thing,” Ibrahim says.
That has meant four years of doing homework and playing video games together, four years of meeting up for shopping, working out, playing basketball, and taking trips to their hometown of New York City. “I never felt alone because I had my best friend here,” Smith says. “That was so important to me.”
And, now, on their very last day at Babson, they are once again together, waiting to begin marching to the tent for the Commencement ceremony. “My four years wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t met my best friend,” Ibrahim says.
The First in Her Family
The procession is almost underway, a traditional path that winds from Webster Center’s indoor running track, under arches made of bright white and Babson-green balloons, and into the Commencement ceremony tent where graduates will collect their diplomas.
This day came far faster than Vivian Nguyen ’22 expected. “It feels so surreal,” Nguyen says as she lines up with hundreds of her classmates. “The last four years have gone by so fast.”
Nguyen is about to pick up the first college degree in her family. “My parents are super excited,” she says. Her younger brother also is in college. Her parents moved to Everett, Massachusetts, from Vietnam 20 years ago, bringing big dreams about a better life for their children.
Nguyen has been busy off campus, too. She’s a city councilor in Everett, besting a longtime incumbent in October 2021 with a promise to bring a progressive viewpoint to city hall.
Meanwhile, Nguyen continued her studies at Babson. Her parents already are seated inside the ceremony tent, only minutes away from an accomplishment that has been a long time coming.
Nguyen looks up as the line shifts slightly. She’ll soon be on her way.
Read this Commencement series’ second installment, which focuses on Babson’s graduating graduate students.
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