PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — As a high school student in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Dasa Gangadhar dreamed of graduating from Brown.
More than three and a half decades later, Gangadhar finally fulfilled that teenage dream — just in time to walk through the Van Wickle Gates alongside his daughter, an undergraduate member of the Class of 2019.
After 24 years as a practicing physician, Gangadhar was ready to pursue a new path, he said — one that would allow him to play a broader role in transforming American health care. After his daughter, Megha, enrolled at Brown as an undergraduate, he was inspired to apply to the University’s Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership program.
“The program allowed me to fulfill my dream of attending Brown, follow a path for which I have great passion and spend more time with my darling daughter,” he said. “What more could a father ask for?”
On Sunday, May 26, the wide-smiling Dasa and Megha Gangadhar were just two of nearly 3,000 graduates, 3,500 alumni and hundreds of faculty and staff who braved the sun and heat to participate in Brown’s Commencement procession. The colorful, exhilarating academic pageant, a tradition nearly as old as the University itself, is a signature event during Commencement and Reunion Weekend that unites new graduates, alumni from across the generations, and University leaders, faculty and staff in a communal celebration.
Each year, the procession begins the same way: At the signal of University Hall’s pealing bell, a chief marshal, clad in top hat and tails and always a member of the 50th reunion class, sets off from Faunce Arch, crossing the College and Quiet greens and striding through the Van Wickle Gates. Behind the marshal are the University president, members of Brown’s Corporation, senior leaders and faculty, each dressed in Commencement regalia. Graduate and medical students follow. Then come the alumni, many of whom have traveled to Providence from across the globe to celebrate landmark reunions and participate in the procession.
Finally, graduating seniors stream through the Van Wickle Gates to a soundtrack of cheers, bagpipes and songs from the Brown Band. This year, several of them snapped selfies with the honorary degree recipients who participated in the procession, among them actor and director John Krasinski and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.