Commencement ceremony celebrates the Class of 2024

Commencement 2024.

Photo by Anibal Ortiz

On a warm Southern California afternoon, Claremont McKenna College celebrated its 76th Commencement Ceremony with the Class of 2024. Honoring the graduates’ achievements, the event was filled with inspiring stories and songs, as families and friends gathered to cheer on their CMCers. 

Award-winning author Cheryl Strayed delivered the keynote address. Strayed wrote The New York Times bestseller, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, which was later adapted into an Oscar-nominated film. She received an honorary degree, presented by CMC Trustee John Shrewsberry ’87 P’24 and Ellen Ketels, Associate Dean of the Faculty for Curriculum and Associate Professor of Literature. 

Strayed was introduced by D’Angelo Brown ’24, CMC’s senior class president. Brown applauded his classmates for their resilience, whether navigating the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic as high school graduates or embracing the challenges of college life at CMC.

“We have emerged stronger, more united, and with a profound appreciation for the opportunities that lie ahead,” he said. “Through these trials, we have not only learned invaluable lessons, but also forged long-lasting friendships and cherished memories that will forever bind us together.”

Bertha Tobias ’24, a Rhodes Scholar, spoke about the importance of “simple truths”—including wisdom from her mother—as the elected student speaker. Tobias, who graduated in December, flew to Claremont from Namibia to join her classmates.

“When we’re young, dynamic, and gifted like my fellow graduates, we are likely to believe that there must be something fundamentally different about our experiences that produces better, more sophisticated lessons about the way the world really works,” she said. “As we go and stake our claim in the world, it’s my hope that we can remember that we have everything we need to survive inside of us.”

Class Valedictorians Michael Gadinis ’24, John Horan ’24, Cooper McKenna ’24, and Kamila Melikova ’24 served as the Student Marshals. Professor Rima Basu, recipient of this year’s Glenn R. Huntoon Award for Superior Teaching, was the Faculty Marshal.

Additional Commencement highlights:

  • President Hiram E. Chodosh shared his Leading through Lava journey—inspirational insights from a recent trip along the Colorado River—with the new graduates and their families.
  • Rabbi Danny Lutz and Imam Dr. Hadi Qazwini delivered the invocation.
  • Trustee William Podlich ’66 GP’26 GP’28 received an honorary degree, presented by Chair of the Board of Trustees David Mgrublian ’82 P’11 and Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, Heather Antecol.
  • Trustee Rossi A. Russell ’71 received an honorary degree, presented by fellow Trustee Bruce A. Soll ’79 P’12 P’15 P’17 and Professor Tamara Venit-Shelton.
  • By popular demand, former Stags quarterback Zachary Fogel ’23 returned to kick off the celebration with a performance of the National Anthem, while Ketels led the singing of CMC’s College Song, “Claremont McKenna.” 

Look for further Commencement coverage on and CMC’s social media accounts next week.

Anne Bergman


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