10 Days
5 Hours
45 Minutes



Six students received graduation certificates at UConn’s first commencement in 1883. This year, more than 8,700 students across all UConn campuses will graduate from the University. As many as 11,000 people are expected to gather on the Storrs campus the weekend of May 7 and 8, to celebrate as 6,015 undergraduates and 2,210 graduate students are awarded degrees.

Commencement is at once a capstone experience and the defining start to the students’ new role as alumni – valued members of Husky Nation. Many ceremonies are planned: UConn’s commencement exercises will include 13 separate events, as each of the University’s undergraduate schools hosts its own ceremony.

About 53 percent of the undergraduate students receiving degrees are women and 46 percent, men. The oldest undergraduate is 69 and receiving a bachelor of general studies degree; the youngest, at 19, is earning a bachelor’s degree in urban and community studies. And if you think you’re seeing double, that’s because there are 26 sets of twins in the Class of 2016. Also included among the undergraduates are 56 U.S. military veterans.

Some 85 percent of the undergraduate degrees will be awarded to students from Connecticut. After Connecticut, the top states students hail from are Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. There are 191 international undergraduates from 34 countries, including: China, Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.

Read about what they’ve experienced during their UConn years.

Rachel Laffitte

Rachel Laffitte

  • Political Science and Business Management double major with a concentration in International Business
  • Two internships as a financial management intern with General Electric
  • Husky Ambassador Coordinator
  • Involved with Cross Cultural Connections, Alternative Breaks, Leadership in Action, Moot Court
  • In April, UConn's representative to discuss global women's security at the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference in Maryland

What was a defining moment during your time at UConn?
Starting my freshman year, I knew I wanted to participate in an alternative spring break. Throughout high school, I really enjoyed being involved in my community, and I wanted to continue participating in service projects at UConn. For my first alternative break, I went to Harlan County, Kentucky. I was particularly interested in the trip because it focused on labor rights and the unionization of the coal mining industry. While I hoped that I would make a positive impact on the Harlan County community, I never expected the trip to have such a positive impact on me. After learning about corporate social responsibility initiatives and sustainability projects, I decided to change my academic focus. Keeping my political science major, I decided to add a dual degree in management with a concentration in international business in order to gain a business perspective on labor regulations and policies. As I reflect on my time here at UConn, this alternative break experience stands out as a defining moment, for not only did it start my journey towards my current career path, but it also gave me the confidence to pursue my passions.

Who have you met here who has already had an impact on your future?
My thesis advisor, Professor Betty Hanson has made lasting impact on my future. In the fall semester of my junior year, I took her course on South Asian politics on a whim. I had no background knowledge of the region, so I enrolled in the class simply out of curiosity. A few weeks into the semester, I became fascinated with India, and consequently decided to pursue an honors conversion in the course. Combining my newfound interest in India with my passion for labor rights, I began researching trade union legislation variations by state and its impact on India’s GDP growth. After the semester ended, I continued researching different aspects of Indian politics with Professor Hanson’s guidance. Currently, I am finishing my honors thesis, which focuses on better understanding how party competition affects variations in Hindu-Muslim ethnic violence in India. While I am not heading directly to graduate school and continuing my research in India immediately after graduation, Professor Hanson introduced me to a region full of complexities, mysteries, and intrigue.

As an intramural athlete, what did you most enjoy?
Intramural sports are always a great way to stay active, release some stress, and have fun with friends. Personally, soccer and flag football were my favorite intramural sports to play, and I particularly enjoyed how enthusiastic my teams were about the leagues. We even made team jerseys to wear for all of our games.

Where are you headed after graduation?
After graduation, I will be working for General Electric in their Financial Management Program (FMP) which is a two-year leadership development program. The program combines four 6-month rotational assignments along with coursework and job training to equip young professionals with technical, financial, and business skills.  Typical job assignments include financial planning, supply chain finance, and commercial finance.

What will you miss most about UConn?
Without a doubt, I will miss the amazing people I have met here at UConn. I have made lifelong friendships here, and I will miss being surrounded by such talented, driven, and inspiring people. While I will always carry the Husky spirit around wherever I go, Storrs has an undeniably electric atmosphere that cannot be replicated.

Noor Afolabi

Noor Afolabi

  • Economics Major
  • President of Women in Business
  • Member, Alpha Kappa Psi

What was a defining moment during your time at UConn?
One of my most memorable moments at UConn was last year during spring semester. I had the opportunity to participate in an alternative spring break in Immokalee, Florida. Not only did I learn about the migrant population of that town and how the majority of our food comes is produced, I also made 54 new friends who truly care about the world and want to make it a better place. This trip motivated me to dedicate myself even more to being successful, so that one day I can be in a position where I can impact positive change in the world.

Who have you met here who has already had an impact on your future?
My professors and mentors have been very instrumental throughout my time at UConn. I struggled with finding a career path when I first chose my major, but there were several people who truly helped me navigate my options. Now, I have a clear vision of what I want to do for the rest of my life.


As president of Women in Business, what sorts of activities do you pursue?
I participate in a lot of events that help enhance my professional skills. Events such as resume, LinkedIn, and cover letter workshops, mock interviews, etiquette dinners, etc. Being part or a professional fraternity also helped prepare me for this position.


Where are you headed after graduation?
A month after graduation, I will be starting a financial analyst job where I interned this summer in Hartford.

What will you miss most about UConn? There are several things I’m going to miss. Mainly, the ice cream – coffee espresso crunch to be exact – my bosses and colleagues at the Lodewick Visitors Center, the sandwiches at the Coop café, spending time in the union, and, of course, Ted's.


Class of 2016 Mindset

As another class of Huskies prepares to leave college and enter the world, we revisit the list of cultural touchstones for members of the Class of 2016, the majority of whom were born in 1994 and began their UConn careers four years ago. Each year, Beloit College releases a "Mindset List," providing a glimpse at some of the factors that characterize the lives of students. (The list has been edited for length.)


For this generation, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Richard Nixon have always been dead.


Bill Clinton has always been a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.


For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.

White House

White House security has never felt it necessary to wear rubber gloves when gay groups have visited.

Darth Vader

Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy.


They have never seen an airplane "ticket."

Bean Boots

L.L. Bean hunting shoes have always been known as just plain Bean Boots.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has always been officially recognized with clinical guidelines.


They watch television everywhere but on a television.

Double Helix

Genomes of living things have always been sequenced.

Nathan Wojtyna

Nathan Wojtyna

  • Horticulture and Resource Economics double major
  • IDEA grant recipient

What was a defining moment during your time at UConn?
A key moment of my time here at UConn was working at the UConn Writing Center. Through working there I learned how to develop and improve my critical thinking and interpersonal skills tremendously, which has propelled me forward as a thinker and writer throughout my academics.

Who have you met here who has already had an impact on your future?
I have met a lot of individuals who have made a big impact on me, although Dr. Gerald Berkowitz was instrumental in being my biggest advocate and supporter here at UConn. He gave me the freedom and encouragement as an advisor to never be complacent. Without his encouragement I would not have been here at all.

As an IDEA Grant recipient, what did you pursue?
My IDEA grant project investigated methods to improve the commercial harvesting of a New England native tree fruit shrub, Aronia mitschurinii ‘Viking’, that has been garnering interest as the most antioxidant rich fruit available on the market. The results of the project are promising so far and if the long-term studies turn out well then commercial growers in the Midwest can start adapting the methodology and converting blueberry acreage to Aronia crops.

Where are you headed after graduation?
I plan to pursue at Ph.D. in Horticulture at Cornell University focusing on sustainable tree fruit production systems.

What will you miss most about UConn?
Of all the things at UConn, I’ll miss my colleagues, co-workers, and roommates the most. We have had some great times and long nights across the four years.

Symone James

  • Elementary Education Major
  • First-Generation College Student
  • President, Nubian Foxes Dance Team
  • Secretary, Leadership in Diversity
  • Member of Husky Sport and the African American Cultural Center

What was a defining moment during your time at UConn?
A defining moment for me was a conversation I had with René Roselle, a faculty member in the Neag School of Education, during my freshman year. I had to interview her for an assignment and during the conversation I had an emotional revelation about why I wanted to be a teacher. It helped me realize the ways that my parents’ unwavering support of my education made me want to provide that support for other children, and that was why I wanted to teach.

Who have you met here who has already had an impact on your future?
I could name so many folks! Definitely many faculty members in Neag like the entire Husky Sport team – Justin Evanovich actually helped me come to the conclusion I want to eventually become a professor way down the road after teaching (hopefully teaching students like myself how to become teachers). The advisers in Neag – Mia, Dominique and Ann – who support me now and I know will be there in the future. The Leadership in Diversity mentoring team which helped me discover more about myself as a person and who I want to be as an educator.

Do you have any advice for other first-generation college students?
Ask questions and do research. It’s definitely difficult being a first-generation student because you don’t have a wealth of informational resources that other students who are not first generation do. Everything was new and I felt like I had to fill in all the blanks myself even though I had a great support system.

Where are you headed after graduation?
After graduation I’ll be completing an accelerated master’s year as part of Neag’s Integrated Bachelor's/Master’s program. I have yet to go to a basketball game so I’m glad I have one more year to do that!

Holding Office and Holding Court

Over the years numerous university presidents, military commanders, journalists, and industry leaders have addressed graduating classes. This year, it seems appropriate to recall elected officials who have delivered commencement speeches at UConn.

In the early days of the school, the governor of Connecticut was a graduation speaker in 1884 (Gov. Thomas M. Waller), 1885 (Gov. Henry B. Harrison), and 1888 (Gov. Phineas C. Lounsbury).

UConn first attracted a politician of national standing in 1950, when U.S. Vice President Alben W. Barkley addressed a class swollen in size by the influx of GIs following World War II. Barkley served as vice president under Harry S. Truman and initially sought the 1952 presidential nomination.

Fourteen years later, Connecticut Gov. John Dempsey, for whom UConn’s hospital is named, also delivered a commencement speech while in office.

Other public servants who have imparted advice to departing graduates:

“The challenge I put to you today is not to solve the crises we face in America's hospitals or schools – though I hope some of you will play a role in those efforts. In fact, it is not about solving any one individual problem. Rather, my challenge to you is this – restore our belief that we can accomplish things together in this country.”

2006, Rosa DeLauro

U.S. Representative

“I remember the first time I was asked to speak at a commencement. I was a young congressman from New London, and I was nervous. A friend of mine, an Irish priest, shared a piece of advice that I have never forgotten. He said, ‘Now, Christopher, a commencement speaker is much like the guest of honor at an Irish wake. They need you in order to have the party, but nobody expects you to say very much.’”

2000, Christopher J. Dodd

U.S. Senator

“I’ll tell you what I really think about long graduation speeches. But as my friend, Dana Carvey would say, ‘Not gonna do it! Wouldn’t be prudent!’ … [But] I will give you 15 minutes on why Dennis Rodman should never be Secretary of State.”

1998, George H.W. Bush

former President of the United States

Joseph Rosa

Joseph Rosa

  • Communications Major with a Minor in Professional Sales Leadership
  • SUBOG President 2015-16
  • Transfer from Waterbury regional campus

What was a defining moment during your time at UConn?
My defining moment during my time at UConn was being elected as the 2015-2016 SUBOG President. I transferred here as a sophomore and knew I wanted to get more involved in different organizations. I started off as a committee member and worked myself up to a chair position. All of my hard work paid off when I was elected President for my senior year.

Who have you met here who has already had an impact on your future?
I’ve met countless individuals who have impacted my future. I’ve worked closely with students, professional staff and even the administration here at UConn. I’ve been in meetings with the Board of Trustees, Eleanor Daugherty - the Dean of Students and even President Herbst. All of these amazing individuals have affected my career in different ways and I am honored I had the privilege of knowing them.

How has your major had an impact on your UConn experience?
As a communications major, I found that it is imperative to step outside of your comfort zone. Students learn to communicate with different individuals through different means. We all take Rory McGloin’s persuasion class or other in depth courses that teach us the proper way to get our words across. From being in a Tier-III organization, the skills I learn in the classroom become very transparent as I work in SUBOG. I am constantly communicating with different offices on campus, outside companies and vendors, and even students. It’s important to stay professional and confident as I go throughout my day.

Where are you headed after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to find a job as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative.

What will you miss most about UConn?
I’ll miss my home. UConn has become my second home! I can’t think of one specific thing I will miss because I honestly will miss everything.