— by Jordan Cameron, Marketing & Communications Specialist
2023 Commencement video thumbnail showing a graduate waving excitedly at the camera

The Moore community celebrated the 174th Commencement on Saturday, May 13, at a brand new venue: Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center. This year’s ceremony not only celebrated the graduates of the class of 2023, but also welcomed back members of the classes of 2020 and 2021 to celebrate their graduation in person for the first time. 

This was also the first Commencement ceremony for Moore’s 11th president, Cathy Young, wrapping up her first year as the College’s president. 

Cathy Young speaking at Commencement

“As artists, educators, innovators, and creators, you are the shapers of our collective future,” President Young said. “I encourage you to be daring and to dream big—to imagine the world you want to create, and to employ all your gifts and knowledge to build that world.” 

Scholar, writer and activist Dr. Salamishah Tillet was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts and delivered the keynote address, to inspire the graduates and remind them the power of art and storytelling. She spoke of the literary feminist figure Scheherazade of the folk tales in One Thousand and One Nights, offering the audience a new lens through which to view her story and relate it to their own.

“I’m more intrigued by her connection to her sister, Dunyazad, her first audience, her original muse, and her ongoing collaborator. I’d like us to think about how that exchange between two young people on the verge of adulthood and amid chaos offers me, maybe you, and all of us, a model of rebellion, freedom and solidarity with others who are different from ourselves. Together they ended state violence against girls and women, and they showed us how storytelling can change the world.” 

The 2023 Valedictorian Gia Leotta ’23 also spoke, addressing the audience with humor and encouraging her peers to look beyond the binary between success and failure—something artists and designers are uniquely good at doing. 

Lily Scharff ’23, the recipient of the 2023 Happy Fernandez Leadership Prize, gave a speech in praise of her peers for finding the strength and courage to follow their passions and change the world through art and design. 

Madeleine Maillette ’23 received the Marian Locks Senior Award, which is awarded to a Moore graduate of any discipline to help launch their career after completing their undergraduate studies. 

Maddy Maillette and family at commencement

View the full video of the Commencement ceremony on YouTube: 

Photos by Steve Weinik.