The Class of 2017

The Class of 2017

Meet Rutgers graduates who have left their mark on this institution and are poised to pursue their passions after commencement. These students are exemplars of this diverse and engaging academic community. We celebrate their achievements and look forward to the bright futures ahead.

Rutgers Senior Inspires Peers to Make Their Mark

Spoken word poet Alyea Pierce is passionate about performance and leadership. She combined both to elevate the university’s Mark Converence – growing it from 170 students to this year’s sold-out crowd of 530. She will earn her master’s in college student affairs at Rutgers' Graduate School of Education.

Deafness Provides an Unexpected Richness to a Dancer’s Life

Rutgers’ Mason Gross senior Anna Gichan explores her identity with – and without – hearing aids. This duality, she believes, is tied to her love of dancing and sense of happiness.

Golfer, Journalist and Entrepreneur: Kayla Jackson is a Renaissance Student

While her peers were playing in the sandbox, she was playing the links. Golf instilled a tenacity in the Rutgers senior that helps her excel both on and off the greens. The journalism and media studies major's latest ambition is a crowd-funding startup to help students pay for college.

Rutgers Senior Who Started College Midlife Poised To Graduate With Three Majors

After high school, Sten Knutsen's fascination with electrical and mechanical engineering took a backseat to his faith. Today, the 47-year-old linguistics, computer science and cognitive science major is grateful he traded his full-time job to become a full-time student and 'figure things out'.

'Rutgers Senior Flourishes After Leaving Egypt During ‘Arab Spring’

Chris Wakim’s odyssey took him from Alexandria, Egypt, to Bergen Community College to the School of Engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, where he will graduate this month with a double major in microbiology and the biotechnology concentration in bioinformatics.

Rutgers University-Newark Senior Pays It Forward by Starting His Own Scholarship for Future Students

Albert Appouh knows adversity. His Ghanaian immigrant parents divorced when he was 5. He came out as gay in high school and faced taunts. He has grappled with a learning disability and battled mental health issues. But through it all, this graduating senior has overcome great odds. 

Rutgers Senior Awarded Prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Chelsie Riche, an Africana studies and history double-major whose research and activism at Rutgers led her to Cape Town, South Africa, and Washington, D.C., will pursue her master's degree in African studies at the University of Cambridge.

Major Surgery Prompted Graduate to Become a Nurse

Dianne Barba’s decision to become a nurse came upon her a little more than two years ago as she lay in a hospital bed the day after undergoing brain surgery.

The Play’s the Thing for this Rutgers Graduate

Theron Alexander’s dream is not to be the center of attention, but to be at the center of the action working as a stage manager in the theater. And, as he gets ready to graduate, he already has some professional experience to claim on his resume.

Steven Okoye, who graduates from Rutgers Law School in Camden this month, had a plan for completing his education, but when life circumstances required a change in plans, he took the challenge head-on to make everything work for him and his family.

Graduating Senior Fulfills Lifelong Dream to Be a Video Game Designer

As a child, Steve Gussman watched intently as his older brother played video games such as “Super Mario 64.”  Now he’s graduating from Rutgers-Camden with a self-proposed bachelor’s degree in holistic video game development and minors in digital studies and physics and realizing his dream of working as a full-time video game designer.

Rutgers Student Graduates After 18-Year Hiatus

When Doreen Sparrow finally receives her degree from the School of Engineering this month, she will not only reach a goal that took her nearly three decades to achieve, she will also see her youngest son earn his bachelor's degree from Rutgers’ School of Arts and Sciences.

Lessons From Rural Medicine

Sydney Hyder, who graduates from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School as a Gold Humanism Scholar, has traveled throughout the country to see how others live.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty with a College Degree

After excelling as a Rutgers Future Scholar, Terrell Woods, who is graduating cum laude from Rutgers University-Newark, wants to pursue a career in criminal justice and serve on the Supreme Court.

Rutgers Business School Grad Eyes Giving Back

As Chioma Igwebuike graduates from Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick and begins her career at Goldman Sachs, she is already thinking about how to help others.