PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — One of the hallmarks of Brown’s Commencement and Reunion Weekend is the opportunity for graduates from prior generations to welcome the University’s newest graduates into the Brown alumni family.
For computer science concentrator and Class of 2022 member Zuhal Saljooki, taking part in the traditional Commencement procession on College Hill felt like a full circle experience, she said: “Like we were watching ourselves in the future.” Watching — and embracing.
As alumni marched down Benefit Street with graduating seniors cheering them on, Saljooki caught the eye of Zenab Youssef, a Class of 2020 graduate she hadn't seen in two years, and the two shared a heartfelt hug. Youssef, who now works for Emgage, a nonprofit that empowers Muslim Americans to vote, had been an invaluable guide in Saljooki's first days at Brown, when they met in a campus residence hall.
“Coming in as a first-generation, low-income college student, I did not understand course selection at Brown,” Saljooki said. “Zenab sat next to me the day before classes for two hours. She explained what it meant to take classes for a concentration, what was too much coursework, and where each class was held. Her work as a peer leader ... and best friend brought me to where I am now.”
The embrace between Saljooki and Youssef was just one among thousands across Commencement and Reunion Weekend 2022, held from May 27 to 29. A total of 2,731 new graduates earned bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and medical degrees with the Class of 2022 on Sunday. A day earlier, 1,337 members of the Class of 2020 reunited on College Hill for a traditional Commencement experience, two years after receiving their degrees virtually when the COVID-19 pandemic prevented in-person gatherings.