Convocation for Rutgers’ largest school draws record 3,300 seniors 

Students in the crowd at the 2024 School of Arts and Sciences Convocation Ceremony

Graduates of the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences came together last Saturday and Tuesday for the school’s annual convocation, celebrating a joyous end to their undergraduate years that had begun amid the fear and anxiety of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“You began your undergraduate years during a global health crisis and forged ahead with courage and conviction,” SAS Executive Dean Juli Wade told the Class of 2024 during convocation ceremonies held May 11 and 14 at the Jersey Mike’s Arena. “You’ve done it. This is your day. Give yourself a hand.”

The School of Arts and Sciences is Rutgers University’s largest and most comprehensive school, with a graduating class this year of 5,151. To accommodate all students wanting to walk across the stage and shake hand with the deans, the school held four separate convocations at Jersey Mike’s, formerly the Rutgers Athletic Center, on Livingston Campus.

A total of 3,307 graduates participated across the two days of convocations, the highest turnout since the school began holding convocations in 2015.

The excitement was palpable early Saturday morning as throngs of graduates and their families gathered on the plaza outside the arena, hours before the doors opened. The scene was even bigger following the morning convocation when the exiting crowd lingered outside for pictures and family meetups as a new group lined up to enter.

Graduates said they’d most miss the camaraderie and community of Rutgers, with one even saying he’ll miss the campus buses.

“I got a little sad on my way home from my last final,” said Frederik Krebs, who majored in information technology and informatics. “I didn’t think I’d ever miss those buses. But I realized this is the last time I am going to be crossing the river on the bus.”

Each convocation ceremony featured remarks from a student speaker that explored themes of resilience and hard-won triumph.

Tomaima Yousef, harking back to the pandemic, cited the words of the Lebanese American writer Khalil Gibran, who wrote “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

Yousef, who majored in cell biology and neuroscience, said: “This class’s ability to acclimate to a situation that was not seen in a century, succeed, earn a degree, and laugh about the struggles is what Gibran was talking about.”

Another speaker, history major Maddison Van Der Mark, noted she had the additional challenge of adjusting to life as an army veteran. Van Der Mark said she ended up flourishing at Rutgers, starting a tutoring service for veterans as well as participating in the Rutgers Summer Service Internship. “This beloved community gave me a sense of purpose, pride, and honor that I was missing when I got home from the Army.”

Jinyu Wang, a computer science major, said she entered Rutgers shy and introverted.

“I would never have imagined myself given such a speech in front of this many people,” she said, looking out over the packed crowd. “But here I am. My four years at Rutgers changed me. I met people who are encouraging, loving, and what inspires me is that they had a spark in their lives.”

Natalie James told graduates how she was forced to drop out of Rutgers nearly a decade ago due to a family crisis. Her father had become seriously ill, and eventually blind. She went on to become a successful media strategist and video producer, but realized she wanted to return for her degree.

“My father always instilled the value of education into his children,” she said. “And I met so many powerful, educated women of color leading in the spaces I was now in and knew I had to finish my degree.”

James added that her decision to return to Rutgers wasn’t solely about building a career.

“It was a choice to honor the sacrifices people before me made so that I could have this opportunity,” she said.

In the section below, meet a small but representative sample of the School of Arts and Sciences Class of 2024.

Zaniyah Boykins

Zaniyah BoykinsHometown: North Brunswick, NJ

Major: Biological sciences with a minor in psychology

Plans after graduation: I definitely see myself working in the genetics field whether it be as a genetic counselor or a medical geneticist.

What I will miss most about Rutgers: Definitely the community. I found a lot of  friends that I will be with for a long time.






Xinyi Chen

Xinyi ChenHometown: The Hubei province of China

Major: Psychology with a minor in criminology.

Plans after graduation: I will be attending Columbia University for a master’s degree in applied behavioral science, with the goal of studying and researching autism and eventually working with and treating patients.

What I will miss most about Rutgers: The campus. It’s a beautiful campus that’s never crowded yet has many friendly people.





Sadman Chowdhury

Sadman ChowdhuryHometown: Paterson, NJ

Major: Information technology and informatics with a minor in psychology

Plans after graduation: I am pursuing a job as an IT consultant, and eventually I would like to start my own tech consulting business.

What I will miss most about Rutgers: All the friends I have made. I didn’t know anyone coming in, and I ended up creating a lot of bonds and connections through the Muslim Student Association and the Bengali Student Association. I made friends that I could see myself being with for a long time.





Jayonna Evans

Jayonna EvansHometown: Carney's Point, NJ

Major: Psychology, with a minor in health and society

Plans after Graduation: I am going to work in my career to get a feel for counseling and therapy because I plan to come back and get licensed and pursue my master’s degree. I think counseling and therapy, just to be there to give a listening ear, has always been second nature to me. It’s a calling that involves compassion for people and their feelings, and to be able to help and aid them.

What I will miss most about Rutgers: The community. I actually love Rutgers. You meet all different types of people. It has been such a beauty to experience different cultures and races, and so much diversity.



Fady Fahmy

Fady FahmyHometown: Lancaster, PA

Major: Exercise science

Plans after Graduation: I am going to take some time, and then apply for a graduate program in physical therapy. I really like sports, and exercise science, and am eager to enter the field.

What I will miss most about Rutgers: The students, the professors, and the big lectures with all the people.





Helen Hopersky

Helen HoperskyHometown: Bergenfield, NJ

Major: Double major in Russian and Chinese, with minors in music and education as a social science

Plans after Graduation: I have created a company, Lingua Balance LLC, and I currently work as a language coach and a life coach. My clients are typically people 30 to 40 years old, who are learning a language and need support. I individualize the coaching and help them figure out what is the best strategy for them.

What I’ll miss most About Rutgers: A long list of people. The support system here has been amazing. I have made great connections in the Russian and Asian Languages and Cultures departments. I want to especially thank my professors Cori Anderson and Yuan-Chen Yan.



Ajra Jabin

Ajra JabinHometown: Atlantic City, NJ

Major: Biological sciences and psychology

Plans after graduation: I am working towards becoming a physician associate. I am currently working at Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center as a clinical care technician, and I also have a job at a doctor’s office as a medical assistant. After graduation, I want to take a gap year and build up my resume with clinical hours and experience, and then apply to a master’s program to become a physician associate.

What I will miss most about Rutgers: The one thing I will miss the most is the Bengali Student Association. I found my home there. And this last semester I had the pleasure of serving as the club president. We did so many amazing things. We had more members wanting to join. It is a big family.



Natalie James

Natalie JamesHometown: Hazlet, NJ

Major: Journalism & media studies with a minor in English

Plans after graduation: I want to continue to work in politics for a few years before opening up my own production studio. I also would like to get my masters in public health and focus my work on helping communities with health disparities that are disproportionately affected because of race, class and/or gender.

What I’ll miss most about Rutgers: I will miss the sense of pride you feel on campus. I have always been proud to be a Rutgers student and fell in love with the sense of community I’ve found on campus.




Belicia Kensah

Belicia KensahMajor: Biological sciences

Hometown: Elizabeth, NJ

Plans after graduation: My goal is to become a physician’s assistant. Right now, I have landed a job as a nursing assistant at Trinitas Regional Medical Center. My plan is to get more experience, then applying for a master’s program.

What I will miss most about Rutgers: My friends. I was a transfer student, and initially it was really hard to get into the swing of things. But once I found my people, I felt like I really belonged. I definitely know they are going to love me for the rest of my life. And I love them. Rutgers is a big school. But once you find your people, it feels really small, and it is amazing.




Frederik Krebs

Frederik KrebsHometown: Metuchen, NJ

Major: IT & informatics with a minor in computer science

Plans after Graduation: I have been interning as a software developer for a telecommunications company and I am going to start full-time in August. Eventually I want to go to graduate school and become a software engineer at a big company, like Google or Netflix.

What I will most about Rutgers: My friends. College Avenue. Hanging out with everybody. It is going to be tough being all spread out now. I got a little sad on the campus bus on my way home from my last final. I didn’t think I’d ever miss those buses. But I realized this is really the last time I am going to be crossing the Raritan River on the bus.



Imaad A. Masood

Imaad MasoodHometown: North Brunswick, NJ

Major: Exercise science

Plans after graduation: I plan on applying to physical therapy programs this summer and starting in 2025.

What I will miss most about Rutgers: The people who are here, my friends and the larger community itself. Most importantly, I am Muslim, and the Muslim community here is the biggest in the country. I think being surrounded by such a strong and supportive Muslim community is what I am really going to miss.





Ryan Joseph Nolan

Ryan Nolan Hometown: New Milford, NJ

Major: Sport management

Plans for after Graduation: I am going to be working with the Rutgers football team, working in the day to day operations of the team.

What I will most about Rutgers: All the opportunities for getting involved. I did intramural sports, club sports. I met so many people. There is nothing like Rutgers.





Serena Papavero

Serena PapaveroHometown: Bridgewater, NJ

Major: Communications, with a minor in psychology

Plans after graduation: I am exploring my options and considering going into the real estate profession as an agent.

What I will miss most about Rutgers: Living close to my friends and being able to be with them at the snap of my fingers We share a lot of memories together here, and I am going to miss my friends while living at home.





Tusher Saha

Tusher SahaHometown: Queens, NY

Major: Economics, with a minor in business administration

Plans after graduation: My goal is to work on getting my financial securities licenses to get a fulltime job in wealth management.

What I will miss most about Rutgers: The vibrant community and camaraderie. Coming from Queens, I had to start fresh, and find my circle of friends and social life. And that is exactly what I found at Rutgers, with different groups of people. So I think that has been the greatest. All the experiences I had in my four years at Rutgers.




Kassandra Stamis

Kassandra StamisHometown: Montvale, NJ

Major: Art history, with a minor in digital communication, information and media

Plans: I am going to start my master’s degree at Rutgers in fall for curatorial studies, and when I finish, I plan to be off doing museum work.

What I will most about Rutgers: The fact that I live only five minutes from my friends. Also, Game Day is a great time with everybody hanging out all day watching football.





Maddison Van Der Mark

Maddison Van Der MarkHometown: Belmar, NJ

Major: History with a minor in military science

Plans after graduation: I will be returning to the active-duty Army as an Adjutant General Officer.

What I’ll miss most about Rutgers: The incredible community and friends that have surrounded me during my past four years at Rutgers!





Jinyu Wang

Jinyu WangHometown: Born in China, raised in New York City and Raleigh, NC

Major: Computer Science

Plans after graduation: I plan to go to graduate school for computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania. After I finish my graduate work, I want to work in the technology field related to artificial intelligence.

What I’ll miss most about Rutgers: All the people I met here. Such a close-knit community of friends and peers all going through similar experiences can be hard to find elsewhere!





Tomaima Yousef

Tomaima YousefHometown: Monroe Township, NJ

Major: Cell Biology and Neuroscience

Plans after graduation: Relaxing, eating exquisite Egyptian cuisine, going on spontaneous adventures with friends, and spending quality time with my family! These are not just fleeting plans I wish to carry out after graduation but staples that I know will be important in any chapter of my life.

What I’ll miss most about Rutgers: The intellectual freedom fostered in seminar rooms, the guidance of amazing professors, and the students' quick mobilization behind a cause.




 Students tossing their caps at the 2024 School of Arts and Sciences Convocation