Master’s Class of 2024: “The Best So Far”

by Marc Ballon

Published on May 10th, 2024Last updated on May 14th, 2024

Thousands of joyous USC Viterbi School of Engineering students, parents, faculty and friends filled USC Galen Center on Friday, May 10, to celebrate the graduation of master’s students from the Class of 2024.

The graduates, resplendent in black robes accented with cardinal-and-gold sashes, proudly walked across the stage to thunderous applause as they received their newly minted diplomas. They shared hugs, high-fives, selfies and laughter and a palpable sense of joy.

This year, a total of 2,241 students successfully graduated with a master’s degree from USC Viterbi. Dean Yannis C. Yortsos said “this graduating class is the best so far, the best educated, the most representative in the school’s history. Almost 35% of our graduating engineering class are women, denoting the change of the face of engineering to the better; almost 20% are first generation; our students are hailing from all parts of the world, cementing a strong network of alumni, lifelong and worldwide.”

Nearly 200 USC Viterbi master’s students graduated with a perfect 4.0.

USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos (Photo/Josh Lo)

USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos (Photo/Josh Lo)

The dean said that this year’s graduates dealt with the debilitating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with “tenacity, resilience and ingenuity,” rising to all challenges and “emerging stronger than ever.”

Similarly, he said he admired the students’ maturity in dealing with the reverberations on campus from international events taking place thousands of miles away.

“You have demonstrated dignity, moral compass, true grace,” Yortsos said. “You demonstrated your trustworthiness, traits that augur well for the future, as you will be asked to bring solutions to grand challenges, many of them with a social-centric focus.”

The dean noted that we now live in age of constant accelerations, of exponential change. In such a world, leaders much adapt, show agility, have a strong growth mindset, and embrace change. USC Viterbi master’s graduates, Yortsos said, have the tools to thrive in this turbo-charged environment because they have absorbed the “Viterbi culture of Engineering+ in seeking and solving problems in different areas.”

Student speaker Oliver Laryea at the master's commencement ceremony (Photo/Josh Lo)

Student speaker Oliver Laryea at the master’s commencement ceremony (Photo/Josh Lo)

And with recent advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other computing technologies, the accelerated pace will move even faster. USC Viterbi is ready.

“To shape and inform this new landscape, we launched this year the new School of Advanced Computing within Viterbi, dedicated to human-centric computing and its applications,” he said. “It will act as a hub for advanced computing research and education across the entire university. And it will promote the human-centric application of potent forms of advanced computing, from AI to quantum computing.”

To accommodate the large turnout of graduates and their relatives, the USC Viterbi graduate degree commencements were divided into two separate ceremonies. The initial one for master’s degrees was conducted in the afternoon at Galen, while the subsequent ceremony for computer science and data sciences graduates took place later in the same venue.

At the afternoon celebration, graduate Oliver Laryea said he refused to allow the cost of his dream school dissuade him from matriculating at USC Viterbi. Laryea, who earned a Master of Science in product development engineering, said he had faith that his world-class education and experience at Troy would forever pay off.

“At a school as innovation-centric and inherently entrepreneurial as Viterbi, we turn tech uncertainty into tech-opportunity,” said Laryea, who was also a member of the Trojan Boxing Club. “Where others see a problem, we see a blank canvas and a chance to innovate. And as USC Trojans, we don’t give up or give in. We fight on!”


Shreya Mukherjee spoke later at the computer science celebration. A course producer for Associate Professor Saty Raghavachary and a mentor with Women in Engineering, she said she would never forget her time at USC Viterbi, the stresses and strains and all-nighters notwithstanding.

“As we prepare to embark on our separate paths, I’m reminded of Mahatma Gandhi’s words: ‘There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart,’” said Mukherjee, who earned a master’s degree in computer science. “Though we may part ways physically, our bond as the Class of 2024 and with USC will forever unite us.”

Student Shreya Mukherjee spoke at the master's computer science commencement ceremony (Photo/Josh Lo)

Student Shreya Mukherjee spoke at the master’s computer science commencement ceremony (Photo/Josh Lo)

This year’s commencement coincided with the 20th anniversary of USC Viterbi School naming, which honors the generosity of Qualcomm cofounder Andrew Viterbi, Ph.D. EE ’62, and his late wife Erna. Dean Yortsos reflected on how far the engineering school has come in just two decades.

“Twenty years of leadership in engineering education and research, 20 years of constant transformation, 20 years of helping engineer a better world,” he said.

Yortsos ended his address by telling the assembled that USC Viterbi would always be there for them.

“Follow your heart and your intuition,” he said. “And when you get to where you’re going, take a moment. You will see a supportive institution that is proud of you.”

Published on May 11th, 2024

Last updated on May 16th, 2024

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