Class of 2023 to be honored at T-Mobile Park in 32nd Commencement Ceremony

The University of Washington Bothell’s graduating class of 2023 will take the stage at T-Mobile Park in this year’s Commencement Ceremony on June 11 — the first time in three years that the ceremony will return to the stadium.

For the 2022-23 academic year, UW Bothell will award 1,818 undergraduate degrees, 195 graduate degrees and 12 teaching certificates to a class ranging in age from 19 to 62 years old — and hailing from as far away as South Africa.

Students receiving their master’s degree will also be recognized in the annual Graduate Hooding Ceremony on Saturday, June 10, on the UW Bothell sports field. In this traditional ceremony, graduate students are presented by their faculty with a master’s hood bearing the colors of their program.

“I remember graduation at UW Bothell as incredibly meaningful,” said Priya Frank, director of equity, diversity and inclusion at the Seattle Art Museum and this year’s keynote speaker. “To be able to help celebrate the amazing graduates of this year’s class and all they have accomplished is truly a full circle honor for me.”

From classroom to career

Priya Frank headshot

Frank has a long history of both educational and work experiences at the University of Washington.
She received her undergraduate degree in Communications and in American Ethnic Studies from the University of Washington in 2004. She then worked there in various roles while pursuing a Master of Arts in Cultural Studies degree from the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at UW Bothell, which she received in 2011. She also later served as the IAS associate director for advancement.

“UW Bothell is a place where I came into my own, like I was supported for exactly who I was and how I approached the work I was doing. As a result, I felt a lot of agency to make change happen,” Frank said.

“The Cultural Studies program was a real life-changer for me. It gave me a lot of opportunity to try new things,” she said. “Having been in the workforce for several years, it was such a benefit for me to just be able to center myself and think about ‘What am I interested in?’ and dip my toes within an environment that felt safe.”

Frank says that much of her current professional work in diversity, equity and inclusion at SAM is a continuation of her time and experiences across the UW.

Seeds of a lifelong community

“At UW Bothell, I finally felt like I had found community within my academic experience,” Frank said, adding that the small class sizes gave her an opportunity to closely interact with both professors and fellow classmates. “Our two years together allowed us to see each other grow professionally and personally in incredible ways.”

Many of the people Frank met at UW Bothell have become lifelong connections, she said. Her former classmate and now close friend, Paul Johnson, is currently the vice president of people and culture and the chief diversity officer at the Seattle Symphony — just across the street from SAM. They continue to support each other in their shared DEI work within the Seattle arts scene.

“It’s just really special to see where many of us have ended up and how we continue to support each other,” Frank said.

The same goes for her professors. Frank noted that her portfolio adviser from her master’s program, Dr. Susan Harewood, associate professor in the School of IAS, continues to be someone she looks to for advice as a mentor.

“It’s wonderful to see that kind of continued investment and care,” Frank said. “There are so many seeds the professors planted with us and to see where those seeds are growing in different areas — locally, nationally, internationally — is just really inspiring. It gives me hope.”

Beyond boundaries and limitations

Now, at the Seattle Art Museum, Frank is enjoying the opportunity to see her own work centering on diversity and inclusion make a difference for others.

“Change doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s exciting to see the investments made in equity work seven plus years ago starting to come to fruition in multiple ways — and it’s important to celebrate that while recognizing the work never ends.”

Frank started at SAM in 2016 as the associate director for community programs and was promoted in 2020 to her current position. That same year, she was also recognized for her career and dedication to the arts communities when she received the Alumna of the Year Award at UW Bothell.
“As somebody who’s a first-generation college graduate and the first in my family born in the U.S., being able to celebrate at Commencement a class that reflects a lot of the experiences I had means all the more,” Frank said.

When asked what advice she has for this year’s graduates, Frank said, “Don’t be afraid of the hard stuff. Even if you’ve never imagined yourself doing something, if it scares you in a good way, give it a shot because you never know where it could lead. Whether you succeed or whether you fail, it’s actually not as relevant as the experience itself and what you can gain from that.

“It’s about visualizing yourself beyond the boundaries and limitations that society often gives us and going beyond our ancestors’ wildest dreams,” she said. “We don’t have to let everyone else’s definition of success define us. We pave our own way.”

Solidarity in solitude

This year’s student speaker at Commencement is Isabeau Rosen, president of the Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell and a junior double majoring in Media & Communication Studies and in Culture, Literature & the Arts.

Isabeau Rosen, junior in IAS and ASUWB president

Having graduated from high school and then started her college education during the pandemic, Rosen said she recognizes the struggles many of this year’s graduates had to overcome to get to where they are.

“Everyone looks back on the ‘Zoom time’ as ‘glad we’re out of it,’ but I actually think it created a lot of really unique opportunities that people don’t reflect on enough,” Rosen said. “That’s sort of what I’ve tried to do as president — to highlight what people tend to think of as downfalls or ‘I had to settle for this or work around that.’

“We have experience that no one else can claim.”

While connecting with other students and faculty may have required more effort or a different approach during and right after the pandemic, Rosen also said it has opened the door for connecting in new ways. “If I was on a traditional first-year campus experience, I would be meeting people but wouldn’t have had the same level of solidarity,” she said.

A sense of pride

As the student government president, Rosen saw this nontraditional way of connecting as an opportunity to help bridge gaps between the challenges of having to teach a class virtually, versus the experience of virtual learning.

Though she found a silver lining in the virtual learning environment, Rosen has enjoyed engaging with students, faculty and staff in person over the last two years and is excited to play a role in celebrating the achievements of this year’s graduates.

“Commencement is a big deal. It is an end to a very large and very important chapter in your life. You’re going on to more school, going on to the workforce or just into the real world in general,” Rosen said. “One of the main things I want students to leave with is pride that they went to UW Bothell.”

Rosen added that if there’s one piece of advice she could share with the Class of 2023, it would be Lewis Carroll’s quote that, “If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will get you there.”

A celebration of achievements

The 2023 Commencement Ceremony will begin at noon on Sunday, June 11, with doors opening at 10:30 a.m. Entrance tickets are required for all guests.

“I’m most excited about Commencement being back at T-Mobile Park this year,” said Lisa Walker, UW Bothell’s director of Ceremonies & Events. “There’s something to be said for one big ceremony — there is so much energy in the room, the parents are excited and the students are excited. It’s just an overall wonderful feeling.

“I know this year’s attendees can look forward to an exciting ceremony.”

Learn more about this year’s Commencement weekend.

Read more recent news

See all news