Skip to main content

Ever better, together: Celebrating our 2024 graduates

2024 graduates lining up for commencement procession

The Warner School of Education and Human Development held its 66th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18, honoring 113 graduates who received Doctor of Philosophy (PhDs), Doctor of Education (EdDs), and Master of Science (MS) degrees, along with advanced certificates.

The University of Rochester’s commencement weekend (May 17-19, 2024) began on Friday morning with a University-wide ceremony, followed by a doctoral ceremony in the afternoon. On Saturday, the Warner School’s Class of 2024 gathered at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre in downtown Rochester. Faculty, staff, families, friends and alumni joined the graduates to celebrate as they crossed the stage to receive their degrees.

The commencement ceremony opened with welcoming remarks from Warner School Dean Sarah Peyre, who recognized the Class of 2024 for “their accomplishments and shared belief that education is the key to a more just and equitable world.” 

Each year, the Warner School ceremony includes a tradition of celebrating each graduate attending commencement with a brief bio read aloud during the ceremony, highlighting their backgrounds, academic achievements and career plans. 

In addition to conferring degrees, alumna Lisabeth (Liz) Tinelli ’16 (PhD) received the University’s Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Tinelli is an associate professor and the coordinator of the Graduate Writing Project in the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program at the University’s undergraduate College. She has been teaching at Rochester since 2007, initially at the Warner School before joining the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program in 2011. She has taught both first-year and upper-level courses on writing and communication across a wide range of topics. Tinelli earned her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Geneseo and her PhD in education (with a specialization in teaching, curriculum and change) from the Warner School.

Some Warner graduates were also honored at the ceremony for their exceptional academic performance and commitment to education. Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Cynthia Callard recognized nine graduates with special student awards:

Mary Ellen Burris Human Development Award 

The Mary Ellen Burris Human Development Award was presented to Carrie Baker, who graduated with a master’s in human development. Baker is an advocate and educator for the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She is excited to apply her newly acquired knowledge to her current position. 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.

Harold Munson Counseling and Human Development Award 

The Harold Munson Counseling and Human Development Award was presented to Elizabeth Weale and Jordan Rice. A Montreal native, Weale was inspired to pursue her master's after working with children and families in Tanzania, East Africa, for a decade. Her experiences in the Rochester City School District further ignited her passion for urban education. She hopes to continue working as a school counselor in diverse settings for many years. Rice always knew she wanted to work with and help individuals on a personal level. She was further inspired to pursue her master's in mental health counseling, having experience working with individuals in crisis, individuals who have endured trauma and individuals diagnosed with eating disorders. 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. 

Logan R. Hazen Award for Educational Leadership

The Logan R. Hazen Award for Educational Leadership was presented to Nina Shaw and Danielle D’Onofrio. Shaw previously worked in a variety of educational settings with students ranging from sixth graders to graduate students. Her pursuit of a master’s degree was motivated by a vision of more equitable access to higher education for her former students. She will now pursue a position in student affairs in Rochester. From Long Island, D’Onofrio earned her bachelor’s in public health at SUNY Brockport. Her love of the higher education population motivated her to pursue a master's. Now the assistant director of alcohol and other drug education, she is excited to see where her journey takes her. 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.

Eleanore F. Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching 

The Eleanore F. Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Jessica Ritchlin and Bradley Beckwith. Ritchlin earned her undergraduate degrees in meteorology & water resources. Feeling unfulfilled, she decided to follow her true passion — teaching. While completing her master's, she was accepted into the ROC Urban Teaching Fellowship program, a paid teacher residency with the Rochester City School District, where she plans to continue teaching after graduation. From Oxford, New York, Beckwith earned both his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Rochester, where he also served as a three-time captain on the University’s football team. Next fall, he will teach social studies at Spencerport Middle School alongside starting his career in coaching. 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.

Tyll van Geel Educational Leadership Award 

The Tyll van Geel Award was presented to Gregory Baker and Robert Hathaway, who both completed their doctorates in educational administration with a specialization in K-12 schools. Baker earned his master’s in education from SUNY Fredonia and his CAS from SUNY Brockport. He has served as the assistant superintendent at Penn Yan Central School District for nine years. Baker’s dedication to supporting the growth of others while remaining ambitious in his own love of learning inspired him to pursue his doctorate in educational leadership. Hathaway was inspired to pursue a doctorate from his experiences as a teacher and administrator in the Rochester area and hopes to continue promoting lifelong learning for students and staff. He will continue to advocate for student learning through equity, inclusion and wellness. 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. It 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.

With new degrees in hand, the Warner School Class of 2024 is prepared to lead through change, innovating and collaborating across research, scholarship and practice to make the world 'ever better.' The Warner School community extends heartfelt congratulations to its graduates and their families. To learn more about the graduates and join in the celebration, visit the Warner School’s Class of 2024 webpage. Throughout commencement weekend, the Warner School celebrated the festivities on social media using the hashtags #URWarner2024 and #UR2024.

View moments from the May 17 University-wide ceremony for all Rochester graduates and the May 18 Warner School Ceremony.