F&M Stories

F&M Grads Get Ready to Launch

When it comes to opportunity, don't ask yourself 'Why?'

Instead, "Ask yourself 'What?'" said Jacob Bleacher, a 2000 Franklin & Marshall College alumnus, addressing Class of 2023 graduates at their May 13 Commencement.

"What can I do with this opportunity?" asked Bleacher, chief exploration scientist in NASA's Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate.

Like many of the 518 graduates sitting before him in the Alumni Sports & Fitness Center, Bleacher entered his first year at F&M full of uncertainty. But with faculty guidance — and a knack for recalibrating both opportunity and lunar equipment — he transformed a degree in geology into a pivotal role at NASA.

"Land on your moon, whatever that means to you," Bleacher said.

Highlights of the ceremony included remarks from honorary degree recipients Carlos Graupera and Kathleen E. Harring '80, Henry S. Williamson Medalist Nadezhda Ivanova, and Class of 2023 president Tracy Lin.

F&M President Barbara Altmann likened the graduating cohort's journey to that of the lotus — a rare and resilient flower that must grow through muddy waters to bloom.

"You have flourished, dear graduates, and you will continue to flourish — not despite all the turmoil, but at least in part because of the turmoil," she said, recalling the pandemic that clouded many of the graduates' first full year on campus.

With the traditional passing of the torch, cheers erupted as students turned tassels to signify the close of their undergraduate chapters.

"What I see before me here is nothing less than a whole field of lotus flowers, strengthened and beautified by the lived experience that led you here today," Altmann said.

Relive the Memories

For downloadable images of the ceremony and events leading up to Commencement, see our full photo gallery.

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