PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — On Sunday, May 29, on a sunny afternoon atop College Hill, many thousands of family members, guests, friends and mentors gathered on the College Green to cheer on the Class of 2022 graduates during Brown University’s 254th Commencement.
After processing up the hill from the First Baptist Church in America, where 1,677 bachelor’s degrees had been conferred by Brown President Christina H. Paxson, or from graduate and medical ceremonies across campus, the newly minted graduates settled in for the University Ceremony.
Though Brown’s time-honored tradition of lifting student voices at Commencement remained, this year included a distinctive twist: Of the two senior orations, one was delivered jointly by two students.
Alexandra Ali Martínez and Kaitlan Bui, both California natives who — of course, for this class — first met on Zoom during a Royce Fellowship orientation, collaborated on their speech, taking turns at the mic in an address titled “We are the Bearers of Many Stories.”
Martínez, a Rhodes scholar who concentrated in Latin American and Caribbean studies and international and public affairs, has deep roots in the communities near the U.S.-Mexico border, where she grew up. Bui, a Fulbright scholar who earned her bachelor’s degree with concentrations in English and East Asian studies, is part of the first generation in her family to be born in the U.S., to which her family immigrated from Vietnam.
Together, they delivered a powerful speech that weaved together stories of their respective migrant communities, reflections on their Brown experience, and meditations on how their fellow graduates can change the world beyond the Van Wickle Gates.