On Sunday, May 19, 2019, Schmid College of Science and Technology celebrated the Schmid College Class of 2019 under the rays of a rainbow as rain fell over graduating students, family, and friends.

Watch the ceremony here.

Keeping with tradition, the ceremony was kicked off with an inception selfie with the graduating class and previous Dean of Schmid College and new Founding Dean of Fowler School of Engineering, Andrew Lyon. Following the photo, Interim Dean Jason Keller presented Chapman University’s highest awards for both undergraduate and graduate students. Biochemistry major, Vidal Arroyo, was presented with the Cheverton Award and Computational and Data Sciences Doctoral Candidate, Justin Gapper, was presented the James L. Doti Outstanding Graduate Student Award. Both students gave addresses as the University’s Convocation the Friday night before. 

Interim Dean Keller then invited two student speakers to share their thoughts and experiences with the Class of 2019. The first speaker is biological sciences graduate, Catherine Domingo. During her undergraduate experience, Catherine conducted research on marine biology and her honors project focused on “The Influence of the Apolipoprotein E4 Allele APOE on Blood Brain Barrier Integrity and Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.” Catherine has accepted an internship with the National Institute of Health in Maryland and will be applying for medical school.

Catherine’s Address:

“Welcome President Struppa, Distinguished Faculty, Families, Honored guests, and of course, a warm welcome to the Class of 2019. I stand here before you, glad to finally say that this will be the last day that we’ll have to come to school at 8 a.m. I’m glad that we no longer have to spend sleepless nights memorizing ochem mechanisms that we weren’t even sure would be on the test, dissecting foreign, complex writing in scientific journal articles, or frantically finishing and submitting our lab reports at 11:58 p.m. We threw ourselves into the hardest of studies in college for the sake of furthering our knowledge in the field that we love. We have received the privilege of understanding the particulate nature of life and the intricate processes involved in human development. But most importantly, we came to realize how much we still don’t know about the world. The charm of science is that it is ever-evolving, and although there come times when it falls short of a thorough explanation, this beauty of the inexplicable is what gets us excited and motivated to chase after the answers. I can’t help but feel reminded of the words inscribed on the plaque of Schmid Gate: “Let all who depart use their knowledge in the pursuit of truth.”

We are all here, in cap and gown, ready to begin a new chapter of our lives. Whether you’re going to grad school, professional school, or straight to work in the industry, you are bringing with you the knowledge that has been accumulated, modified, and nurtured by all the scientists that came before us. From the beginning, Chapman has asked us to be leaders the moment we stepped past that gate. We’ve been working on changing the world since we got here, and we’ve been ready and well-equipped to continue to do so.

When you go home today, relieved that the struggle is finally over, and maybe a bit sad that we only had a year to make use of the beautiful new Keck building, I want you to think of this. Think of all the efforts and support you’ve received from your family, professors, and friends. Without them, we would not be here right now. Lastly, I ask you to be proud of your achievements and know that no challenge stands a chance against hard work and sheer persistence. Congratulations, Class of 2019.”

Abby Atchison, our second student speaker, graduated with her Master’s in Computational and Data Sciences. Abby successfully defended her Master’s thesis on “Classifying Challenging Behaviors in Autism Spectrum Disorder with Neural Word Embedding.” She will continue to work at Microsoft as a Software Engineer focused on their online collaborative projects.

Abby’s Address:

“Hello and good morning everyone! Thank you, Dean Keller. Faculty, friends, and family thank you all for being here today to celebrate the class of 2019!

Now to my fellow classmates, when thinking about what I wanted to say to you today I found myself returning to a particular story from my time here at Chapman. Back in the Fall of 2015, while most incoming computer science majors began their first semester enrolled in a foundations course learning the basics of programming, I found myself in android app development. Due to my previous background in computer science and particular affinity for not allowing myself any free time I sat in my first ever collegiate computer science course surrounded by seniors.

Seniors who knew things like what blackboard was and whether blaze or pizza press was superior, amongst more relevant information specific to the class. In short, the voice inside my head most commonly characterized as my imposter syndrome was certain that I did not belong there.

And so I called up Erik, or Dr. Linstead as I knew him at the time, and said, listen, I’ve gotta drop. To his credit, Erik took no time in informing me that I in fact would not be dropping the course but rather that I needed to show up.

So I did. I showed up on the days where my inner voice yelled in protest, which were many. I showed up on the days when I didn’t know the answers to give and the days when I didn’t even know the questions to ask. By the end of the semester I had a fully constructed Android application and, more importantly, a new sense of fearlessness. A certainty that even when facing the most daunting of challenges, whether that challenge is produced externally or internally, sometimes the best thing you can do, in fact sometimes the ONLY thing you can do is show up.

With that in mind, I want to admit to you all that I stand before you today uncertain of my qualifications to be one of your keynote speakers. Nonetheless, I showed up today and so did all of you so I hope to speak to you not as someone standing up on a podium that is deceivably high, nor as someone who has it all figured out or even as someone who has it a little bit figured out. I hope to speak to you for a moment simply as your peer.

All that I hope for you as you leave today is that you choose to show up. I hope you show up in uncertainty I hope you show up when you don’t know the answers or the questions. Because frankly, our education at Chapman has been so much more than learning facts and figures to recite at opportune moments. In your time here at Chapman, whether you realize it or not, you’ve been gifted with a certain fearlessness. Not one of comic book proportions or one that will one day be written into a duffer brothers production although that would be pretty cool. No, you have a simple fearlessness that comes with the understanding that sometimes all you can do is show up. Just show up. May you all remember that in the years to come and on the days you forget may the diploma you gain as you walk across the stage today remind you, as Erik did for me all those years ago.

Let me just close by saying I am so deeply humbled to be a part of this day for you all and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this class of 2019. It has been my greatest honor to be a part of this group for the last four years and to show up alongside you all each day. Thank you.”

As the ceremony concluded, Interim Dean Keller left the graduating class with these words, “As all of you leave Chapman you’re going to go on do amazing things…you will all continue to be successful. My sincere hope for each of you though, is that in your future successes, just like in your success today, you will be surrounded by friends, mentors and families who will celebrate those successes with you – even if it is on Sunday at 8 a.m. in the rain…Congratulations Class of 2019!” 

Thank you to all who helped us celebrate our Schmid College graduates! We can’t wait to see what they accomplish and look forward to featuring them in our Schmid College alumni spotlights one day.


See more photos from the ceremony here.