Rossier News

USC Rossier’s Class of 2024 encouraged to keep fighting on

Family, faculty and staff gather to celebrate USC Rossier’s newest graduates.

By Ellen Evaristo Published on

Perseverance and dedication describe USC Rossier’s graduating Class of 2024. On May 8 and 10, the doctoral hooding ceremony and master’s commencement ceremony, respectively, celebrated the newly minted graduates’ hard work and resilience. The Class of 2024 included 327 doctors and 415 master’s graduates, who have shown that they are ready to take on whatever challenges come their way with grace and determination.

Commencement 2024
USC Rossier 2024 doctoral hooding ceremony (Photo/B. Morri)

USC Rossier Dean Pedro Noguera presided over both ceremonies. “Education is essential for producing a shift in consciousness about how we live in the world and with each other, and in how we think about our responsibility to future generations,” Noguera said in his opening remarks at the doctoral ceremony. Education is the most powerful when it inspires people to think critically and independently. Noguera said the attacks on education by those who want to ban books and limit access to history, cannot suppress the truth or silence the past. He remains optimistic that education can unleash creativity and problem solving, and “nurture our ability to live ethically and sustainably.”

Commencement 2024
USC University Professor Shaun Harper (Photo/B. Morri)

The doctoral hooding ceremony keynote speaker was USC University Professor Shaun Harper. A nationally respected racial equity expert, his research focuses on race, gender and other dimensions of equity in an array of organizational contexts, including K–12 schools, colleges and universities and corporations.

In Harper’s remarks he invoked the infamous USC Fight On chant and encouraged the class that the nation needs them to keep fighting. He urged them to Fight On for education and racial equity, Fight On to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, to end gun violence, and to “Fight On until the hopes and dreams of your ancestors who migrated from Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Nigeria, Ghana and elsewhere across the globe are more fully realized.”

As graduates pursue what is good and right, Harper reminded them that they are not fighting alone. “You’ll have all these amazing USC Rossier doctoral graduates fighting alongside you,” he said in his closing remarks. “And you’ll have the full force of the Trojan Family behind you.”

Commencement 2024
Mariah Lora MAT '24, USC Rossier 2024 master’s ceremony student speaker (Photo/B. Morri)

The master’s ceremony student speaker was Mariah Lora, who completed her Master of Arts in Teaching. As a first-generation student, she spoke of the valuable lessons she learned while attending USC Rossier and how individuals, like puzzle pieces, all play a role in a larger story. “We are each made up of equal and essential pieces that contribute to the beautiful mosaic of mankind,” she said. Lora added that each piece is created with the help of family, friends and generations before. From her grandmother’s decision to bring her family from Aguascalientes, Mexico to the U.S. to her parents meeting in high school detention and falling in love, these stories contributed to Lora’s experiences from junior college graduate to USC master’s graduate. “My puzzle, your puzzle, our puzzle tells the beautiful story of resilience, strength and power of unity,” she added. “By sharing our journeys and celebrating the diversity of experiences that make us who we are, we create a more inclusive and equitable world for all.”

The following graduates received the 2024 Dissertation of Distinction:

  • Zachary J. Barricklow, EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership. Dissertation title: “Leading Innovation and Change: Presidential Perspectives on the Future of Work and How Rural-Serving Community Colleges Adapt” (Chair: Robert A. Filback)
  • Eric Obeng-Amoako Edmonds, EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership. Dissertation title: “Understanding Cross-Cultural Knowledge Sharing in Ghana’s Energy Sector: An Exploratory Study” (Chair: Monique Claire Datta)
  • Robert James Thrash IV, EdD in Educational Leadership. Dissertation title: “We Gon’ Be Alright: A Phenomenology of Black Educators, Occupational Stressors, and Wellbeing” (Chair: Shaun Harper)
  • Jeanette Zambrano, PhD in Urban Education Policy. Dissertation title: “Culturally-Relevant, Autonomy Supportive Instruction: Toward an Integration for Enhancing the Motivation of Racially and Ethnically Diverse Learners” (Chair: Erika A. Patall)

The following were this year’s flag and banner bearers:

  • Doctoral Hooding Ceremony: Geni M. Cobb EdD ’24 and Maritza E. Salazar PhD ’24
  • Master’s Ceremony: Kelly Michelle Amador MAT ’24 and Keenan Anthony Kalaaualoha Kurihara EMP ’24

Photos and videos of both the doctoral hooding and master’s ceremonies can be found at the USC Rossier 2024 Commencement page.

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