Publisher Johns Hopkins Advanced Academic Programs

More than 850 graduates crossed the stage on Homewood Field Monday, May 22, as part of the 2023 Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Master’s Graduation Ceremony, which recognized the completion of studies for students in 47 master’s degree and graduate certificate programs. About 3,000 guests were on hand to celebrate the milestone.

Stage view of the faculty and keynote speaker Kevin Young at the 2023 KSAS graduation ceremony.Veronica Donahue, the associate dean for graduate and professional programs in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, welcomed the graduates and asked them to reflect on their achievements. “Enjoy the success you have earned through hard work these past few years and, today, celebrate,” she said.

Graduates and guests then heard from Christopher S. Celenza, the James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and Stephen Gange, JHU’s interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Taking the stage, guest speaker Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, offered the graduates advice for the future.

After reading “Russet,” a poem from his collection, Young noted that graduates are completing their journey in the spring, a season of renewal and deep growth. “It is this kind of growth you’ve undergone that blossoms today,” said Young, who as a professor for 20 years witnessed such development first-hand. “I’m always struck by the passion and persistence of each new generation of graduates.”

As he recalled his choices and path—from writing poetry, to entering academia, to departing academia for archives and museums—Young pointed out that it all required leaps of faith. “So, my first bit of advice to you is: be brave,” he said. “Bravery is not the absence of fear, as you know, but proceeding despite it.”

Reading a second of his poems, “Aunties,” Young explained that he began his journey by writing about his family and ancestors. Throughout his career he found ways to infuse that background into this work, making connections that might not seem obvious at first. “So, my second piece of advice to you is: be bold,” Young said. Being bold, Young noted, requires “making connections across time between seemingly unalike things, connecting the past with the present and really pushing beyond to think into and about the future.”

Young closed by reading “Commencement,” his poem about growth in unexpected places, and urged graduates to “continue to grow and be free.”

Graduates, guests, faculty, and staff celebrated with a reception on Keyser Quad after the ceremony. As Donahue noted, the evening was “an opportunity to join together as a community and send our graduates on to their next endeavor with new knowledge and, more importantly, the ability to create more knowledge and share it with the world.”

View a recording and learn more about the 2023 KSAS Master’s Graduation Ceremony.

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