'Make our world a better place for all of us'

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Ryan Zu '17 waits with fellow chemical engineering graduates for the start of the Hajim School diploma ceremony. (Photo by Bob Marcotte/University of Rochester)
Click here for a gallery of other photos from the ceremony by Keith Walters.

“Spend time working hard at work worth doing, something that will make our world a better place for all of us,” Dean Wendi Heinzelman told graduates of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at their diploma ceremony.

“If you do this, when you look back in 50 years, you will surely smile.”

There was no shortage of smiles on Sunday as 388 seniors crossed the stage of Kodak Hall, capping a Commencement weekend that also featured separate ceremonies for graduate students, an Order of the Engineer induction, and school and department receptions.

Jannick Rolland, the Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering, received the Edmund A. Hajim Outstanding Faculty Award, and Cynthia Gary, assistant dean for grants and contracts, received the Hajim Outstanding Staff Award.

Student recipients of Hajim School and department awards were also recognized during the weekend.

University President Joel Seligman and Hajim, a key benefactor of the school and former chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees, joined in congratulating the graduates at the diploma ceremony.

Hajim's service to the University during his eight years as board chairman was "transformative," Seligman said. Hajim led the University through its largest capital campaign in history, and personally made the largest single gift in University history — a $30 million committment to the school that now bears his name. "Much more than the money, however, it was the dedication, the devotion and his commitment to the University that made a difference," Seligman said.

"It means so much to me that his name will always be attached to your school of engineering and applied sciences."

Hajim urged the graduating students to "take that silent moment" to take stock of what they've accomplished, and what they're going to do. "As engineers you have unlimited opportunities. You’re only limited by the scope of your imagination and how hard you want to work."

As is his tradition in addressing Hajim School graduating classes, he urged students to find the "four P's" that can help define a successful career: Passions, principles, partners, and plans.

This was Heinzelman’s first commencement since becoming Hajim School dean last year.

”Your education and experiences at the University of Rochester have taught you how to think and act like an engineer, and this will serve you well no matter what career path you make decide to take,” she told the Class of 2017.

However, she added, “the word commencement is all about beginnings, and your degree — while being a marker of accomplishment — is really a compact for your future promise. With your engineering degree in hand, what will you go out into the world and do?”

The world needs engineers to tackle challenges ranging from health care and energy supply, to biotechnology and communications, she said. But “we also need people who care, care about the impact of our decisions on our environment, on our place as global citizens, and on our future.”

She cited several examples of Hajim students, including many graduating on Sunday, who have already put "compassion into action" by applying their engineering skills to humanitarian projects this school year. The examples included implementation of a fresh water supply for a school in the Dominican Republic and 3D-printed prosthetic upper limbs for Syrian refugees.

“Thank you for letting us work with you, teach you, and grow with you. Please stay in touch and let us know of all your future successes, as we are sure there will be many!” Heinzelman concluded. (Click here to read her comments in full.)

The Class of 2017 is not only one of the largest in the school’s recent history, but is also one of the most diverse, including 33 percent women, 11 percent underrepresented minority students, and 20 percent international students.


Members of the Institute of Optics Class of '17 pose with their banner. (Photo by Bob Marcotte/University of Rochester)