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Celebrating the Class of 2023’s ‘ever better’ achievements

Celebrating the Class of 2023's ever better accomplishments

The Warner School of Education and Human Development honored graduates during its 65th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 13. The Warner School ceremony marked the conferral of academic degrees for the 110 participating graduates, including 15 with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), 21 with a Doctor of Education (EdD), and 74 with a Master of Science (MS).

The University of Rochester’s commencement weekend (May 12-14) kicked off Friday morning with a University-wide ceremony and continued into the afternoon with the doctoral ceremony. On Saturday, members of the Warner School’s Class of 2023 then gathered at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre in downtown Rochester with faculty and staff, families, friends and alumni to celebrate the academic achievements of graduating students who crossed the stage in their caps and gowns to accept their Warner School graduate degrees.

Commencement opened with welcoming remarks from Warner School Dean Sarah Peyre, who recognized the Class of 2023 for “their accomplishments and shared dedication in believing that education can transform lives and make the world more just and humane.” 

Each year, the Warner School ceremony features a rich tradition of celebrating each graduate attending commencement with a brief bio, read aloud during the ceremony, sharing each person’s background, academic achievements, and career plans. Some Warner graduates were also honored at the ceremony for their exceptional academic performance and commitment to education. Douglas Guiffrida, associate dean for graduate studies, recognized the following 9 graduates with special student awards:

The Eleanore F. Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Tianzi (Jerry) Wang and Jane Pritchard. Originally from China, Wang received a bachelor’s in language education. Having taught Mandarin and English in several countries for five years, Wang continues to pursue his commitment to education. He will remain in the U.S. to work as a world language teacher and positively impact students. Born and raised in New York, Pritchard earned a bachelor’s degree in American and British literature from the University of Rochester. Inspired by her parents’ dedication to teaching students of all abilities and backgrounds, she received a master’s degree in inclusion and secondary ELA education. She will continue to work as an English educator in the Rochester area.  The award, which recognizes students for their commitment to teaching, is named for Larson, a former professor who inspired her students to embrace a strong commitment to the education of children.

The Mary Ellen Burris Human Development Award was presented to Ewin Joseph, who graduated with a master’s degree in human development with a specialization in family studies. Born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Joseph earned a bachelor’s in anthropology and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies from the University of Rochester. A passion for education, women’s rights, and education led her also to complete a master’s in legal studies from Northeastern University, while pursuing her Warner School degree, and she plans to attend law school. The award, given to graduate students who bring human development theory and research into practice, is named for Burris in recognition of her career at Wegmans, where she used her knowledge of human development to empower customers to live healthier lives.

The Harold Munson Counseling and Human Development Award was presented to Yunjing "Chloe" Lin and Allison Yerger. Born and raised in China, Lin received a master's degree in mental health counseling. She intends to remain in the U.S. to continue cultivating her skills. She is passionate about humanities and poetry and is hoping to empower people through self-expression and reconciliation. Yerger received her master’s degree in school counseling with a specialization in leadership. The award, given to students who reflect the mission of the counseling program, is named for Munson, professor emeritus, who initiated the school and community counseling programs and developed the programs’ high standards recognized by school districts and community agencies.

The Tyll van Geel Award was presented to Samuel Peter Martina and Fei Shi, who both completed their doctorates in educational administration. Martina earned a master’s degree in liberal studies from Excelsior College, followed by a certificate of advanced study in school district leadership, with additional certification as a school building leader, from the Warner School. With his doctorate complete, he will return to Rochester Academy Charter School to continue to dedicate himself to the success of his students. Originally from China, Shi initially pursued a career in the business world after obtaining her master’s in business administration. However, her experiences and inner desire to serve students inspired her to pursue a doctorate in education. She plans to use her degree to work in higher education. The award is named for van Geel, professor emeritus, who is a scholar of education law and applied ethical issues in education who was instrumental in designing the educational leadership program. The award is presented to doctoral students in educational leadership who demonstrate van Geel’s commitment to ethical leadership and decision-making, and application of scholarship to practice.

The Logan R. Hazen Award for Educational Leadership was presented to Danica Brown and Mayra Vite-Romero. Brown is from Swink, a small town in Colorado. A proud first-generation student, they received their bachelor’s in history from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Brown has been working in residential life at the University of Rochester, while pursuing their master’s degree. Brown looks forward to returning to Colorado and continuing to work in student affairs. Vite-Romero and her family migrated to the United States from Mexico. Education was always at the forefront of why her family moved. After receiving support from faculty and staff as an undergraduate, she was inspired to pursue her master’s in educational administration. She currently supports students as a counselor at the University of Rochester. The award, given to students based on academic success and a commitment to educational administration, is named for Hazen, professor emeritus, who mentored student affairs professionals and taught courses in higher education, while serving as the program director.

With new degrees in hand, the Warner School Class of 2023 is ready to face the opportunities ahead in the next chapter. On behalf of the University of Rochester community, the Warner School congratulates its graduates and their families. Visit the Warner School’s Class of 2023 web page to learn more about our graduates and join in the celebration to help honor the Class of 2023.

Throughout commencement weekend, the Warner School used the hashtags #URWarner2023 and #UR2023 on its social media platforms to celebrate festivities.

View moments from the May 12 University-wide ceremony for all Rochester graduates and the May 13 Warner School ceremony.