Capping a unique college experience 

Commencement celebrates the undaunted and courageous spirit of the Class of 2024.

More than 1,400 students in the University of Washington Bothell’s Class of 2024 crossed the stage at T-Mobile Park on June 9, ready to advance in their careers, continue with graduate studies, volunteer for nonprofits — and make a difference in their communities. 

“Graduates, I know you are well prepared for what is ahead of you,” Chancellor Kristin G. Esterberg said in her remarks to the crowd of nearly 15,000 family members, friends, faculty and staff. “And you are poised to make a tremendous impact in our community, in the state of Washington and around the world.” 

For some, the Commencement Ceremony also capped a unique college experience that began with online classes and virtual meetings with peers and professors. “Our journey to this moment has been nothing short of extraordinary and has been a story of resilience,” Puneet Birk, president of the Associated Students of UW Bothell, told her peers. 

“We have conquered challenges, overcome obstacles and demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excellence.” 

People on a stage in caps and gowns.

Creating impact

The Class of 2024 includes 1,730 undergraduates, 200 graduate students and four students who received their teaching certificate. Students hail from as close as Bothell to as far away as South Africa, and the graduating class includes a rich diversity of first-generation students, veterans, parents and caregivers. 

In her remarks, Birk addressed students like herself. “As a first-generation college student, earning a degree represents far more than just academic achievement. It symbolizes breaking down barriers, defying the odds and opening doors that were once closed,” she said. “Oftentimes, we would have to navigate unfamiliar territory. Oftentimes, we would navigate it alone. And oftentimes, it meant translating our accomplishments for our loved ones to understand. 

“But our courage brought us here today.” 

In addition to Esterberg and Birk, UW President Ana Mari Cauce spoke to the graduates. 

“You will forever carry with you the knowledge of how strong and resilient you really are,” she said. “But it’s not all about hardship — it’s also about celebrating the many doors that will open to you because of the time, energy and talent that you have invested in your future. 

“We celebrate your intellectual curiosity, your passion and your pursuit of excellence. We celebrate your capacity to create impact.” 

Celebrating excellence

In keeping with tradition, Cauce presented the annual President’s Medal to the UW Bothell student with the most distinguished academic record. The 2024 honoree is Maksim Poklonskii, whose goal is to open a nonprofit tax practice that provides services to improve his clients’ quality of life. “Giving back to the community is the best thing you can ever do,” Poklonskii said in an award presentation video. 

Likewise, Esterberg presented the annual Chancellor’s Medal to a UW Bothell student who has been a consistent source of inspiration for peers and faculty alike even as they overcome obstacles. The 2024 honoree is Puneet Birk, who faced the challenges first-generation students encounter and who was balancing caring for her siblings while going to school and serving as ASUWB president. 

Dr. Sharon A. Jones, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, recognized Dr. Raissa DeSmet, associate teaching professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, as the recipient of UW Bothell’s annual Distinguished Teaching Award, and Dr. Sophie Leroy, professor in the School of Business, as the recipient of the annual Distinguished Research, Scholarship & Creative Activity Award. 

Once all students received their diplomas, they participated in the commencement tradition of moving the tassels on their caps from the right to the left, signifying their status as graduates and joining more than 33,000 UW Bothell alumni. 

Photo gallery: 2024 Commencement Ceremony 

2024 Commencement Ceremony

Photo gallery: 2024 Graduate Hooding Ceremony 

On Saturday, June 8, approximately 150 graduate-level students participated in the annual Graduate Hooding Ceremony on the UW Bothell sports field. Faculty presented them with master’s hoods bearing the colors of their academic programs as their family, friends and mentors celebrated their achievements. 

2024 UW Bothell Hooding Ceremony

Photo gallery: 2024 Senior & Family Day 

On Wednesday, May 22, hundreds of graduating seniors and their families enjoyed activities celebrating their big day. Festivities across campus included games, refreshments and giveaways. 

2024 Senior Friends and Family Day

Watch the 33rd Annual Commencement 

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