“What could possibly go right?”

That’s the optimistic question that award-winning restaurateur Danny Meyer ’80, P’20 recommended members of the Trinity College Class of 2024 ask when considering new opportunities.

Commencement 2024
Danny Meyer ’80, P’20 delivers an address at the 198th Trinity College Commencement. Photos by Nick Caito.

“Rather than focusing only on the potential downsides… try hard to let yourself be open to the upsides,” Meyer advised the graduates during his speech at Trinity’s 198th Commencement on Sunday, May 19, on the Main Quad.

Addressing a crowd of thousands assembled for the ceremony, Meyer said that his positive attitude, combined with listening to his gut and pursuing unplanned things, guided his trajectory from Trinity’s admissions wait list to a successful career in the hospitality industry.

In all, 559 students were honored during the ceremony for earning their degrees. Among the undergraduates, 336 received bachelor of arts degrees and 209 were awarded bachelor of science degrees. Five of the undergraduate degree recipients were Individualized Degree Program (IDP) students. Fourteen graduate students received master’s degrees.

Commencement 2024
Class of 2024 graduates walk across the Luther-Roosevelt stone as Commencement begins.

Trinity bestowed an honorary doctor of humane letters degree on Meyer—an author, entrepreneur, and the founder of Union Square Hospitality Group and Shake Shack—in recognition of his investment in and dedication to hospitality and to serving others, his community, and the College.

Meyer told the graduates, “You are the generation our world needs more than ever to thoughtfully engage in solving some really tough problems. Your experiences while at Trinity have shown you that active listening, engaging in courageous dialogue, and assuming the best intentions of others is almost always the best way forward. Please employ those skills generously. They will stand you—and the world—in good stead.”

As he described his own journey, Meyer said, “With the benefit of time and hindsight, I’m pretty confident that the most consequential day in my life was the day Trinity wait listed me. Followed by the day I was accepted here and committed to enrolling. That first day ignited a lifetime of fire in my belly to prove to myself that I could measure up.” He added, “There are abundant abstract pieces of your lives, many connected to your four years here, that will also fit together in ways you cannot possibly know today.”

Commencement 2024
Student speaker Aarti Carolina Lamberg ’24 offers remarks.

Trinity also awarded honorary doctor of laws degrees to former Hartford mayor Luke A. Bronin, in recognition of his influence in service to Hartford and the nation, and the care with which he led the city; and to professor and policymaker Sara C. Bronin, in recognition of her contributions to the greater good as a public servant, academician, and attorney.

Members of the Class of 2024 heard from student speaker Aarti Carolina Lamberg ’24, who asked everyone to slow down and to not rely too heavily on technology as a replacement for human emotions and interactions. “I ask that you allow yourselves a few moments every day to breathe and to make sure you’re doing what you can to spread love and positivity,” she said. “We can choose to return to our inner humanity, to look up from our devices, and to see one another as fellow people.”

In her charge to the first graduating class of Trinity’s third century, Trinity President Joanne Berger-Sweeney talked about the lessons that a difficult year brought to the College community. In the fall, Tahseen Aliahmad ’26 was shot while walking in Vermont with his childhood friends, all of Palestinian descent. Nationwide, college students have protested the war in the Middle East.

Commencement 2024
Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney speaks to the graduates at Commencement.

“Part of what this year has taught us is how to hold firm to what we believe and how to care for one another,” she said. “I am grateful that we remain a community that believes in our convictions while choosing to respect one another even in the face of difficulty and conflicting beliefs.”

In addition to offering her congratulations, Berger-Sweeney implored the graduates to never stop learning or seeking answers, and to embrace the unknown. “You hold the power to use this incredible tool of a liberal arts education to make your community a better place, wherever you go,” she said.

As the degrees were conferred, the valedictorian and salutatorian of Trinity’s Class of 2024 were recognized for their outstanding academic achievements. Henry Shapiro, of New York, who earned a B.S., summa cum laude, with honors in computer science and an additional major in mathematics, was named valedictorian; Hannah Lorenzo, of Arizona, who earned a B.A., summa cum laude, with honors in international studies: global studies and a minor in rhetoric, writing, and media studies, was named salutatorian.

Commencement 2024On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Board Chair Lisa G. Bisaccia ’78 presented awards for faculty, staff, and student excellence. The Trustee Award for Faculty Excellence went to Michelle L. Kovarik, Gregory G. Mario ’87 Associate Professor of Chemistry, and Garth A. Myers, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies. The Trustee Award for Staff Excellence went to Elizabeth Landell-Simon, administrative assistant for physics, environmental science, public policy and law, and philosophy. The Trustee Award for Student Excellence went to Class of 2024 graduates Aarti Carolina Lamberg and Bernardo F. Simões.

Associate Dean for Curriculum and Professor of Theater and Dance Mitchell A. Polin announced honors for several members of the faculty for their dedication to the academic life of Trinity. The Thomas Church Brownell Prize for Teaching Excellence for 2024 went to David Mauro, professor of mathematics. The Dean Arthur H. Hughes Award for Achievement in Teaching for 2024 went to Ibrahim K. Shikaki, assistant professor of economics, and Shunyuan Zhang, assistant professor of international studies and women, gender, and sexuality.

At the end of the ceremony—but just before Trinity graduates tossed their mortar boards into the air—Trinity College Alumni Association President Jorge Eduardo Rodriguez ’91 welcomed the graduates into the company of Trinity alumni, numbering 30,000 around the world.

Commencement 2024 Links:
Commencement Program
Commencement Speeches
Honorary Degree Recipients
Awards and Distinctions
Ceremony Video
Photo Gallery