The Class of 2024 was forged in the crucible of Covid. Multiple teenage milestones disappeared into that maelstrom: senior proms, high school graduations, and a traditional first year at college of connecting face-to-face in classrooms and social spaces. 

Four years later, a class of remarkable individuals emerged stronger together, rejoicing in their academic achievements, competitive excellence, artistic talents, and lifelong friendships.

Denison’s goodbyes to the Class of 2024 honored their resilience and commitment to take full advantage of a life-shaping education. A first-ever Countdown to Commencement event in April. A Senior Send-Off week like no other, with an unforgettable Senior Sizzle, laughter-filled “Olympic” games, and a final raucous round of Jack and Ron’s Trivia at Slivy’s, punctuated by hugs, hugs, and more hugs.

When families and loved ones arrived on Friday, seniors introduced them to the places and people featured in the countless stories they told back home. Baccalaureate provided a welcome pause for reflection, and then it was off to a food truck fest at the Senior Soirée with fireworks, families, and friends.

The sun rose on Commencement day as blanket-draped students wrapped arms around each other to watch their last dawn break over a hill carpeted with red poppies. Soon after, clouds gathered, and a soft rain began to fall. Mitchell Center filled with professors, students, and families, eager for a hot cup of coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and final farewells at the Faculty Coffee.

At 10 a.m., everything dissolved into a blur. Families found programs and seats. Faculty made last-minute adjustments to their robes. Graduating seniors joked and laughed as they lined up.

The fanfare for the Class of 2024 rang out over a graduate procession engulfed by cheers, applauding professors, and the love and pride of their families.

Denison President Adam Weinberg welcomed everyone and delivered the charge to the class, student commencement speaker and valedictorian Priyanshi Kanoria spoke of how her classmates persevered through challenges, and co-governors Alex Pan and Zora Whitfield presented the senior class gift to the college. To a standing ovation, keynote speaker Skidmore College President Emeritus Philip Glotzbach exhorted the more than 3,000 attendees: “Don’t give up on democracy.”

Provost Kimberly Coplin ’85 called out the name of each graduate crossing the stage as cheers, whistles, and applause filled the air. The noise crescendoed to a deafening roar as Ali Amir Ziegler-Kahn, an international studies and history double major from Loveland, Ohio, received the final diploma and handshake from President Weinberg.

A chorus of seniors led everyone in singing the alma mater, “To Denison.” Delighted faculty recessed, laughing and waving. Senior associate provost and professor Cathy Dollard ’85 invited the Class of 2024 to move their tassels from right to left, signifying their newfound graduate status.

Finally, together as one, the Class of 2024 threw their caps into the air, embraced their families and loved ones, and walked out into the dazzling sunshine.

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May 13, 2024