Class of 2024 celebrates Baccalaureate, unveils Ivy Stone and class pin

The same undergraduates who started at Penn during the pandemic gathered for the first of many Commencement season activities.

Class of 2024 President Omotoyosi Abu
At Baccalaureate, Class of 2024 President Omotoyosi Abu spoke of the “deep connection” he and his classmates have formed throughout the past four years.

The Class of 2024, along with family and friends, filed into the iconic Irvine Auditorium on Tuesday afternoon with music from the Curtis organ—the 11th largest pipe organ in the world—in the background. A centuries-old tradition that’s evolved along with Penn, this year’s graduating seniors were celebrated during an interfaith Baccalaureate Ceremony with speeches, song, dance, and readings from sacred texts.

Interim President J. Larry Jameson, on stage dressed in academic regalia alongside Penn’s undergraduate deans and fellow administrators, told the graduating class that they’ve been “nothing short of amazing.”

“From your first year learning at a distance, to this final year with its historic challenges, you have excelled,” Jameson said. “You achieved your goals with meaning, purpose, and ambition. Above all, you’ve remained committed to one indispensable constant: Joy. Joy of learning, joy of friendship, joy of growing, and joy of doing good. Life will always challenge us, but joy is what brings us here together today.”

The hourlong program, kicked off by The Rev. Charles “Chaz” Howard, the University Chaplain and Vice President for Social Equity & Community, featured four student ceremony leaders who shared their hopes and wishes for their fellow classmates, and performances by the Penny Loafers, Penn Lions, and the Penn Glee Club. Leaders from Penn’s spiritual communities shared readings and wisdom from each of their traditions, and the Class of 2024 President Omotoyosi Abu provided remarks.

Abu, a graduating student in the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, described his class as one defined by “chaos,” invoking the realities of a global pandemic to campus protests, and more. But despite the impact of “constant changes,” he said, “the one thing that’s remained constant in our lives is this class, the people we are sitting next to, and we share a deep connection with today.”

“As the complexities of the world threw hurricanes our way, these same roots helped us weather the storm,” Abu said. “For me, I’m eternally grateful.”

For the first time, the Ivy Stone for the graduating class was unveiled during Baccalaureate, along with a custom pin with the same design, handed out to each student and meant to commemorate the occasion. Annabelle Noyes, vice president of finance for the Class of 2024, shared that the design, by graduating senior Vereta Gour (who also designed their class’s Hey Day shirts), embodies a stamp, which is symbolic of the “official signing off” of the Class of 2024, “just like you stamp a letter when you are finished writing it.” 

“The stamp also symbolizes communication and staying in touch with those who are dear to our hearts, just like all of you are,” said Noyes, who is a graduating senior at Wharton, focused on management and business analytics. “So, Class of 2024, let us continue to stay in touch, let’s stay connected, let’s continue to reach out to one another.”

students smile for photo at carnival
students play game at carnival
Jameson takes selfie with students at carnival
students pose for photo with Senior Class Carnival backdrop
After Baccalaureate, students enjoyed food, balloons, and games galore at the Senior Class Carnival.

Immediately following Baccalaureate, the Penn Band led students to a special, tented Senior Class Carnival outside. On the way over, Emma Li, a graduating senior from the Bay Area in the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research, where she’ll receive degrees in physics and chemical engineering, said she enjoyed the ceremony. “It was really nice to see the different cultures and religions represented,” Li said.

Wearing a “Penn there. Done that.”-branded T-shirt from the Penn Bookstore, and holding her class pin, she waved to classmates, and noted the excitement of having finished her final project earlier in the day. As for the rest of the week leading up to Commencement?

“I’ll be making as many memories with friends as possible,” Li said.