Two graduating students wearing caps and gowns hug each other.

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University


Johns Hopkins University celebrates the Class of 2024

Nearly 1,700 Hopkins undergrads receive their degrees during the universitywide Commencement ceremony at Homewood Field

The Johns Hopkins University Class of 2024 began its path to graduation at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with students attending their first university-level courses at home via Zoom rather than in a classroom overlooking a quad.

Today the class took part, in-person, in a definitive collegiate capstone moment: walking across the stage on Homewood Field to receive their diplomas during the university's 148th Commencement ceremony.

Despite a little rain and lot of clouds, a surprise performance by the legendary Stevie Wonder helped to brighten the festivities. The award-winning singer-songwriter took to the piano on stage and played a medley of his hits, including "The Secret Life of Plants," "You Are The Sunshine of My Life," "I Just Called To Say I Love You," and a brief but familiar chord from "Superstition."

Nearly 1,700 students received their undergraduate degrees on Thursday, among a total of about 11,000 JHU degrees, certificates, and diplomas awarded during divisional ceremonies throughout the week.

U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney addressed the class during the ceremony after receiving an honorary doctorate of humane letters alongside five other distinguished individuals. Known for defending democratic ideals during a career devoted to serving both the public and private sectors, Romney spoke about the importance of defining their lives not by their careers but by the people they keep close.

"If you define yourself by your career, by how much money you make, by what job you get, by your title, you'll be defining yourself by something that's subject to luck and not in your control, and so you can be gravely disappointed," Romney said. "I would suggest that instead of defining yourself by your career, that you choose to define yourself by things that are entirely in your control—your love for your family, your friendships, your faith, your service to others."

In his remarks to the graduates, JHU President Ron Daniels told the story of how his Boston terrier, Barney, joined the family during the "pandemic puppy craze." He preferred a big dog while his wife, Joanne Rosen, a health law and policy expert and senior lecturer at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, had her heart set on a smaller dog. After much debate, the petite Barney made the Homewood campus his home.

As any proud dog parent would, Daniels shared the many benefits of his life with Barney, from winning an office step challenge to something much more important: the chance to make more spontaneous personal connections while taking Barney for walks on campus.

A student in a graduation cap and gown waves happily with both hands.
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"I share this story because the lesson I learned from you time and time again, from all of you, was how these seemingly small interactions made us so profoundly human to one another, in ways that I might have missed had I not been Barney's human," Daniels said. "I was able to see you in your element, in the midst of your day. And I saw time and time again that this class is made up of some truly remarkable people, each with your own moments of joy and laughter, of triumph and accomplishment."

Senior Kristen Corlay Sanmiguel, selected by her classmates to speak at Commencement, encouraged graduates to embrace uncertainty and go make their mark on the world.

"I'm not going to close by asking you to make history, because that's going to look different for each and every one of us ...," she said. "However, I will ask you to tell people you love them, because you never know when it's going to be last, to stop and look at flowers and hummingbirds, and most importantly, remember that we might be the new generation, but we are not the last generation. So when they come to us and share their vision for the world, let's build it together."