May 2024

Good Times and Gratitude at UMB Graduation Celebration

May 20, 2024    |  

University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) graduates and their guests filled a big tent in front of the Saratoga Building on May 15, enjoying food, music, photo opportunities, games, and more at the University’s Graduation Celebration event.

In one corner, there was a 360-degree photo booth, where attendees could wear hats, sunglasses, and other props and take a spin to create a downloadable video — even UMB President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, and Provost and Executive Vice President Roger J. Ward, EdD, JD, MSL, MPA, gave it a whirl.

The 360-degree photo booth was a big hit with UMB graduates and their family and friends.!

The 360-degree photo booth was a big hit with UMB graduates and their family and friends.!

In another area, there was a conventional photo booth with more props for photo-ops, and, on the other side of the tent, a social media lounge where graduates and their guests could pose in front of a banner proclaiming Congratulations Graduates!

Students received a mug as a graduation gift on their way into the event, and a spin-the-wheel game offered other UMB-branded prizes including cutting boards, charging cables, smart notebooks, racquetball paddles, and umbrellas. The food options included hot dogs, sandwiches, meatballs, chicken bites, fruit, desserts, beverages, and ice cream.

(See photo gallery below.)

The Oriole Bird showed up about halfway through the two-hour event, posing for pictures and spreading good cheer not too long after the mascot’s favorite team had celebrated a victory on a walk-off home run about a mile away at Camden Yards.

Graduating student Cara-Lynn Morrissey thought the party was a home run, too.

“This is super fun,” said Morrissey, who earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the School of Pharmacy (UMSOP). “The food is amazing, I won a free racquetball paddle, and the graduation mug is really cute. Great food, great prizes, and a lot of fun. Thank you, UMB!”

Kellie Le, who earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from the School of Nursing (UMSON), agreed. “I think this is a great way to celebrate,” she said. “It’s a really nice way to commemorate our time here at UMB.”

Nancy Gordon, executive director of protocol and special events, UMB, whose team organized the event, was happy to see the students and their guests in such a celebratory mood.

“It was so gratifying to see our graduates having a great time with family and friends celebrating their wonderful accomplishments,” she said. “They all seemed to enjoy the food, music, games, photo booths, and, of course, the Taharka Brothers ice cream truck. It was a great and festive sendoff for our new UMB alums.”

Graduation Is ‘Giant Leap’

The festivities started at 4 p.m., with graduates and their guests filing in to the expansive tent area that was set up on Koester’s Lot between Arch and Pine streets — in total, more than 500 people attended.

Bardia Memar, a student from the Francis King Carey School of Law who is graduating with his Juris Doctor degree, was one of the first through the gates.

“It feels like only yesterday I was starting law school, only knowing so much about it, and only knowing that I wanted to do something that would make a positive difference in the world,” he said. “So graduation feels like a small step toward that broad goal, but also like a ‘giant leap for mankind.’

“In law school, you’re really learning about how to think about broad issues in a very unique sort of way. I feel like through any other course in life I may not have gotten such a rich skill set,” added Memar, who said he’s had several job interviews and hopes to land a clerkship or fellowship and one day become a professor. “It’s really exciting to think about the possibility of what I could do as a lawyer in the long run.”

Kayla Kramer, who earned her Master of Social Work degree from the School of Social Work (UMSSW), was enjoying the celebration with her 1-year-old son Emory and her husband, Francisco Carriedo.

Kramer, who moved to Baltimore from Seattle, participated in the Child Welfare Fellowship Program at UMSSW and will be working in Baltimore with the Department of Human Services starting next month.

She said the Graduation Celebration was “very unique and very creative.”

She said the community at UMSSW will be something she remembers as a highlight of her time at UMB. “They provided great field instruction,” Kramer said. “They really made an effort to make sure that we had that connection.”

Morrissey said she also was appreciative of her time at UMB, grateful for the friendships she’d made with fellow UMSOP students, and excited to move on to her residency at a New York hospital.

“It’s nice to see four years of hard work finally coming to fruition,” she said. “I’ve made so many lifelong friends over the past four years, and it’s really exciting to celebrate with them after a lot of studying and a lot of late nights.”

‘Ready for the Next Chapter’

Le said graduating from UMSON felt “surreal.”

“But, honestly, it’s really exciting,” added Le, who aims to work in a pediatrician’s office. “I’ve enjoyed amazing colleagues, teachers, and support from my friends and family, and I am ready for the next chapter.”

Ekta Koirala, MSN, BSN, RN, who earned her DNP with a family nurse practitioner specialty from UMSON, plans to remain in Baltimore and work in urgent care.

She said the Graduation Celebration was “relaxing. It’s not tremendous pressure, and I love the music.”

She said UMB taught her life lessons.

“There were lots of sleepless nights to do the assignments and get through clinicals. I learned sometimes I could let go. We are adults, and we have to match our job and our family life and be a student,” she said. “But I think this school with online and in-person courses was adult-friendly.

“Sometimes there would be a moment when I thought, ‘Can I do this?’ Our faculty were supportive and approachable.”

For Fikrte Fekenssa, nursing runs in the family. She was celebrating her graduation from UMSON with her son, who is a nurse at Johns Hopkins, and her daughter.

Fekenssa, who earned a Master of Science in Nursing in nursing informatics, hopes to find a job doing data analysis.

“The community was the highlight,” she said of her time at UMB. “You work together.