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Ebullient 2021 Commencement Honors Graduates with Reflection and Togetherness

On September 12, SCI-Arc hosted its first in-person commencement ceremony since 2019 to honor this year’s graduating class of undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students.

student celebrating graduation crowd

Marking the culmination of an engaging and invigorating semester at SCI-Arc, which capped off with its esteemed Graduate Thesis Weekend, students, faculty, and families gathered at the school’s League of Shadows Pavilion to celebrate the dedication and accomplishments of SCI-Arc’s class of 2021.

people graduation pavilion sunlight

Inaugurating the event in gratitude and acknowledgement of the challenges presented by the past year, Director Hernán Díaz Alonso welcomed guests, graduates, faculty, and staff in person and tuning in to the ceremony virtually: “This was not the graduation we wanted, but it may be the one that we need right now—because we need to celebrate you, Class of 2021. It goes without saying that it has been an incredibly difficult time—due to illness, the pandemic, racism, social injustice, global conflict, the climate crisis—these are not easy times.”

people stage podium speech

He continued, “I want to congratulate you because you made it, showing incredible resilience and strength to get through this process. When you make it to the other side of the river in any capacity, you have to take account that you were capable of doing it.”

Appearing alongside Díaz Alonso on the dais were Vice Director John Enright, Undergraduate Program Chair Tom Wiscombe, Graduate Programs Chair Elena Manferdini, and Postgraduate Programs Chair David Ruy, presenting each program’s diplomas and awards, following a creative and rousing series of videos submitted by each graduate, which lent a personal and humorous tone to the festivities.

man suit speech microphone
Byron Merritt (M.Arch ’99)

Byron Merritt (M.Arch ’99), Vice President Brand Experience Design at Delta Air Lines, delivered the commencement address, followed by graduating B.Arch student Corie Yaguchi, who both offered warm reflections and encouraging words of advice for fellow and future students.

Awards for each designation in all B.Arch, M.Arch, and EDGE programs announced by Díaz Alonso and Enright, to cheers and congratulatory sentiment. The complete list of 2021 award winners is below. The evening concluded with a lively, ebullient party, led excitedly by surprise illuminated robot DJ and dancers, during which graduates, faculty, staff, and leadership celebrated the night way in honor of the class of 2021.

speech screen crowd podium
Corie Shizuka Yaguchi (B. Arch)

To purchase newly released apparel specially designed in celebration of SCI-Arc Commencement 2021, visit the SCI-Arc online store here.

Graduation Awards 2021

SCI-Arc Service Award
Faculty input as it relates to service

  • Corie Shizuka Yaguchi (B. Arch)
  • Julia Mae McConnell (M.Arch 1)
  • Kyle Ray Balster (M.Arch 2)

Alpha Rho Chi Medal
Faculty input as it relates to leadership, service and professional merit

  • James Richard Piccone (M.Arch 2)

Henry Adams Medal
No Faculty input, Top GPA

  • Jonathan L. Ong (B. Arch)
  • Jessie Vivian Helgesen (M.Arch 1)

Graduation with Distinction
No faculty input, Top 10% GPA for each program

  • Yun Ki Cheung (B.Arch)
  • Takin Daneshmir (B.Arch)
  • Jonathan L. Ong (B.Arch)
  • Malvin Bunata Wibowo (B.Arch)
  • Corie Shizuka Yaguchi (B.Arch)
  • Lauren Carmen Hanna (M.Arch 1)
  • Jessie Vivian Helgesen (M.Arch 1)
  • Julie Elizabeth Riley (M.Arch 1)
  • Mohamed Faris Ahmed (M.Arch 2)
  • Allison Leigh Hoagland (M.Arch 2)
    Peter John Kluzak (M.Arch 2)
  • René Pérez Ignacio (M.Arch 2)
  • James Richard Piccone (M.Arch 2)
  • Jordan Paul Scheuermann (M.Arch 2)
  • Evdoxia Besmerti (MS Architectural Technologies)
  • Sanghyun Suh (MS Architectural Technologies)
  • Ka Leung Wilson Chan (MS Design of Cities)
  • Lawrence Dean Servis (MS Design of Cities)
  • Xin Chen (MS Design Theory and Pedagogy)
  • Matthew Thomas Ridgeway (MS Design Theory and Pedagogy)
  • Carlo Sturken (MS Design Theory and Pedagogy)
    Attilio Bonelli (MS Fiction and Entertainment)
  • Vivian Charlesworth (MS Fiction and Entertainment)
  • Saleh Jamsheer (MS Fiction and Entertainment)
  • Emma Anabel Koh (MS Fiction and Entertainment)
  • Pablo J. Lorenzana (MS Fiction and Entertainment)
  • Bonnie Amelia Lester (MS Synthetic Landscapes)
  • Emily CS Pellicano (MS Synthetic Landscapes)
  • Caleb Roberts (MS Synthetic Landscapes)

Merit Undergraduate Thesis Awards– Certificate will be mailed post-ceremony
In recognition of an outstanding undergraduate thesis project

  • Grigori Khachatryan + Riya Vipul Patel (B.Arch)
  • Neeve Salamat (B.Arch)
  • Ali Berk Senbas (B.Arch)
  • Jixing Pan + Di Wan + Rongyi Tang (B.Arch)
  • Corie Shizuka Yaguchi (B.Arch)

Merit Graduate Thesis Awards- Certificate will be mailed post-ceremony
In recognition of an outstanding graduate thesis project.

  • Yixuan Cai (M.Arch 2)
  • Yutao Fang (M.Arch 2)
  • Sohail Gil (M.Arch 1)
  • Nicholas Kenny Gochnour (M.Arch 1)
  • Lauren Carmen Hanna (M.Arch 1)
  • Jessie Vivian Helgesen (M.Arch 1)
  • René Pérez Ignacio (M.Arch 2)
  • Carnation Kng Ni Xin (M.Arch 2)
  • Alexandros Lewis (M.Arch 2)
  • Di Liang (M.Arch 2)
  • Julia Mae McConnell (M.Arch 1)
  • Hans Karl Steffes (M.Arch 2)

Hsinming Fung + Craig Hodgetts Postgraduate Thesis Prize
For the best postgraduate project of the year.

  • Vivian Charlesworth (MS Fiction and Entertainment)

Blythe and Thom Mayne Undergraduate Thesis Prize
For the best undergraduate thesis of the year, reflecting SCI-Arc’s core mission to test the limits of architecture.

  • Takin Daneshmir + Yizhan Zhong (B.Arch)
  • Santiago Álvarez Santibáñez + Malvin Bunata Wibowo (B.Arch)

SCI-Arc Gehry Prize
For the best graduate thesis of the year, reflecting SCI-Arc’s core mission to test the limits of architecture.

  • Burak Celik (M.Arch 2)
  • Julie Elizabeth Riley (M.Arch 1)