"I am very excited. I'm anxious. Most of all I think I'm relieved that it's finally over," said Dillon Ward as he wedged himself between fellow neuroscience majors. Sporting a Johns Hopkins emblazoned poncho over commencement regalia in preparation for the rainy procession to Homewood Field, Ward finally, decisively said: "I'm excited, mostly excited!"
Chatter lingered throughout Remsen Hall as the soon-to-be Johns Hopkins University graduates took their numbered cards and continued to file in line, laughing, some admittedly too tired to function after a hectic senior week, a remarkable memory for many. But what was the hardest part of saying goodbye? All agreed: the people they'd met along the way.
"The professors in our department are going to compare other years to our year in terms of how close knit we were," said Nathaniel Kato, a chemical and biomolecular engineering major who gathered across the way at Mudd Hall. "I think that's going to really be my class legacy. We've established such a close-knit community, and everyone has to live up to that."
Outside Mudd, members of the Archipelago Project gathered to lead the pack in their march. Umbrellas popped up, protecting glittered caps decorated after multiple trips to Michaels with friends.
"Everyone who knows me knows I say 'yolo swag,' so you know, if I had to put something on my cap this is it," said Byu Jareonvongrayab, who donned a "ridiculous" cap covered with flowers. For Ward, the opportunity to conduct research at a premiere research institute lured him to Baltimore, and four years later that research remains a high point of his Hopkins experience. "When you talk to people from other schools who've never had research experience or have never been able to work with world-renowned surgeons and researchers, it's very eye opening, like 'wow, Hopkins is an amazing place for people to collaborate.'"
Students recalled how infrequently their university imposed limits on their interests, giving them the freedom to pursue whatever they wished—like studying bioethics at Homewood and French Horn at Peabody, like Alexis Toliver did.
"I have absolutely no regrets," said Dan Bier as he geared up to march across campus for the last time as a Johns Hopkins student.