After the firehose: the Class of 2024 reflect upon their time at the Institute amidst commencement celebrations

Feliciano: “Just take every opportunity to spend time with the people you care about.”

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New graduates from the Class of 2024 taking pictures in front of a large sculpture denoting the MIT logo, May 31.
Ellie Montemayor–The Tech

On May 31, the Institute’s Class of 2024 gathered at Killian Court for the Undergraduate Ceremony, part of three day commencement proceedings. 1099 undergraduates received their diplomas.


Diplomas presented; pro-Palestinian graduates protest 

The ceremony began with an introduction from class president Penny Brant ’24 and an instrumental performance by Phoebe Lin ’24 and William Wang G. Chancellor Melissa Nobles then addressed the graduating class. She highlighted an experience shaped by the pandemic and the resilience displayed by the class of 2024 in navigating a generational crisis. “Look around at your classmates, strangers who you met on Zoom and became tight friends under tough circumstances,” Nobles said. Following her remarks, Adanna Abraham-Igwe ’24 then sang a rendition of gospel song Lean on Me.

Afterwards, graduating seniors were presented diplomas by Sally Kornbluth and various deans from the schools comprising the Institute. No major disruptions occurred, unlike the previous day’s OneMIT Commencement ceremony in which dozens walked out in protest. Some graduates however, donned keffiyehs, unveiled Palestinian flags or cloth signs with pro-Palestinian messaging, and held signs in silent protest.  

After the conclusion of the ceremony, The Tech asked members of the graduating class to reflect on their experiences at the Institute.


Graduating seniors celebrate graduation, reflect on time at MIT

The celebrations also coincided with Tech Reunions for the Class of 1974 and Class of 1999, with many from the Class of 1974 alumni sporting red blazers and vintage hats around campus.

Speaking generally about Institute culture, some seniors spoke at length about the wealth of friendships to be made within campus grounds.

“I think being a part of MIT is meeting people from different places... experiencing different cultures within very small spaces that you can come to, and people from different places. You make friends from different countries,” Nickie Mpofu ’24, who will be travelling to Kenya as part of MISTI Africa, said. Mpofu is set to work with a semiconductor company while in the East African country.

Many shared this sentiment, pointing to their peers as making up a significant amount of their experience at the Institute and cherishing memories created in shared spaces. Others lamented not having expanded their social circles more during their times as undergraduates.

This past year was a time of reflection for many, reevaluating their priorities ahead of their last months in undergrad.

“It was the beginning of the fall where I sat down and I was like, oh this is finite, this is coming to an end,” Thomas Brooks ’24 said. Brooks, just graduated with a degree in Course 2-A, is staying at the Institute to pursue a Master's in Electrical Engineering. 

John Feliciano ’24, who spoke alongside Brooks, expanded on the statement, saying: “I just tried really hard to find out, ‘What is it that I really love here? Who are the people and the things that I really care about, and what can I do to spend more time in those spaces?” 

Feliciano, a 6-2 major, attended MIT on an ROTC scholarship under the United States Navy and will depart for South Carolina in August to work in the military. He found satisfaction in this mindset of self-reflection and self-fulfillment, more so than in maximizing academic standing in his final semesters. 

Adeena Khan ’24 and Riki Smah ’24 also shared regrets from the ways they spent their last two semesters. “I didn’t really do stuff that I wasn’t already familiar with... I wish that I had taken a class that’s completely unrelated to my major, or [that] I had joined a club that I had never done,” Khan said.

Summarizing her senior year in one word, Maria Garcia-Garcia ’24, a Course 9 major, described it as “unexpected.” She described this year as a period of learning and personal growth, cherishing the opportunity to learn more about herself and her peers.

“Realizing how much I’ve grown as a person, really reflecting on that, it’s like: ‘Wow, I’m a completely different person than I was when I started here.’ I’ve learned a different way to handle myself, my emotions, my academics, [and] my friends,” Garcia-Garcia added.

As they look ahead to the summer and the coming fall — especially for those who are not staying to pursue a Master's or preparing for grad school — seniors shared a level of uncertainty and excitement in their plans and future endeavors.

“I think this is the limbo period,” Mpofu said.

Garcia-Garcia, who is staying in Boston and working at a cafe, is currently in the interview process for two jobs: one as a paralegal at a Harvard law firm, and another as a research assistant at a lab in Harvard. “I’m kind of at a point where I’m a little lost and confused about what to do next, but I’m also very excited,” she said.

Smah and Khan echoed the uncertainty. Smah will be volunteering at the Furst Lab, but is still “hung up between grad school and jobs”; he will continue job-searching in the next coming months and is considering applying for grad school in the next applications round this fall.

Kathy Yung ’24, an 18-C, is moving to Seattle to work for a startup in software. Yung is looking forward to a more structured life in the coming months, and is excited by the prospect of free time moving forward as she is no longer burdened by classes and problem sets.

Finally, the new graduates addressed the Class of 2025, who are soon entering their senior year, and offered advice.

Some graduates focused on time management and finding a consistent rhythm. “Plan your time,” Brooks said. 

Others challenged rising seniors to experiment with their hobbies and activities, pointing to the breadth of extracurricular opportunities found at the Institute and in the city. “Any time there’s an event or something, go for it,” Garcia-Garcia said.

Ultimately, every senior The Tech spoke with had one prominent instruction for the Class of 2025: to enjoy time with friends.

“Just take every opportunity to spend time with the people you care about. Figure out who those people are, and just spend as much time with them as possible,” Feliciano said.

“If there’s any reason to stay up late, or to do something that you didn’t expect to do — just be spontaneous and be flexible with the people you care about because those are the memories that will stay,” Feliciano added.