Fletcher Graduates Class of 2023

Students addressed by Dyan Mazurana, Eda Kosma, Pekka Haavisto
Class of 2023 graduates assemble in a line outside on campus

Spirits were high on Sunday, May 21 as members of The Fletcher School’s community gathered on Fletcher Field to celebrate the graduation of the class of 2023. Graduates were addressed by Dean Rachel Kyte, Research Professor Dyan Mazurana, Eda Kosma MALD23, and His Excellency Pekka Olavi Haavisto, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Finland.

Over the weekend, alumni were also welcomed back to campus for reunion. During a celebration Friday evening with faculty, staff, alumni, and students, Dean Kyte announced the alumni classes honored with this year’s Reunion Class Giving Awards. In her state of the school address on Saturday, Dean Kyte shared news that five new faculty will be joining the school, bringing to Fletcher their focuses on Korea and Northeast Asia, environmental economics, international economic law, negotiation and conflict resolution, and international security studies. Additionally, she announced plans to celebrate the school's 90th anniversary next year, and alumni who attended reunion had the opportunity to record short video messages. In a ceremony held in ASEAN Auditorium on Saturday afternoon, Dr. Amal Jadou PhD09 and Monica Ruiz MALD17 were awarded the Fletcher Women’s Leadership Award by the Fletcher Board of Advisors. The award honors outstanding mid-career alumnae from both the private and public sectors who are making a meaningful impact in the world.

This year, GMAP graduates participated in Commencement exercises alongside the rest of their graduating class for the first time. Additionally, the first cohort of MGA graduates received their degrees. Earlier this week, Fletcher students also participated in Tufts Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion graduations.

During Sunday’s Commencement ceremony, Dean Kyte welcomed those in attendance, underscoring the school’s commitment to courageous, solution-focused global leadership to build a more just and peaceful world.  

"We recognize the importance of all of our fields of study and the interplay between them––and the need for interdisciplinary approaches to the complexity of today’s world,” said Dean Kyte. “To those of you graduating today, we look forward to seeing how you make your own mark in this fast-moving world.”

Following the dean’s address, several awards were conferred upon members of the Fletcher community.

James L. Paddock Teaching Award

In April 1992, the Fletcher community lost one of its most cherished members; James L. Paddock died suddenly at the age of 49. As a professor of international business relations and academic dean, he was a mainstay of the school. Jim Paddock was a superb teacher, who worked constantly to strengthen and improve teaching at Fletcher. After consultation with Jim’s wife, Ilga, the faculty established an annual award in his memory. The Paddock Award goes to the Fletcher professor who best exemplifies excellence in teaching. The school can confer this award thanks to the generosity of Jim’s many friends, colleagues, and former students. The selection of the award recipient is determined by Fletcher students, the process for which is managed by the student council.

This year, Dyan Mazurana was presented with the award. In her faculty address, Mazurana spoke to the work Fletcher faculty, graduates, and students partake in to promote gender and intersectionality, as well as why this work must be a cornerstone of global affairs.

“We have literally hundreds, if not thousands, of Fletcher graduates from the highest levels of the state to leading grassroots movements working towards gender equity for all genders and as such for more peaceful states,” Mazurana said. “The topics we study at Fletcher—and that our graduates leave to take on—are among the most difficult we face as a world. Being able to apply a gender and intersectional perspective helps us think and act smarter in facing these challenges.”

Edmund A. Gullion Prize

The Edmund A. Gullion Prize is awarded each year by the faculty to a student who at the end of the second year best exemplifies high academic achievement combined with participation in the activities of the school and the promotion of its character as an academic community. This year, the prize was awarded to two students, Emily Dahl MGA23 and Alexander Kochenberger MALD23.

Leo Gross Law Prize

The Leo Gross Law Prize is awarded each year by the law faculty of The Fletcher School to a graduating student who has excelled in law-related studies. This year, the prize was awarded to Anna Sophia Braverman MALD23, Shahzel Najam LLM23, and Christoffer Orre LLM23.

Peter Ackerman Award

The Peter Ackerman Award is presented to a student who has completed an outstanding dissertation demonstrating scholarly merit, originality, and contribution to the field and to society. This year the award was presented to Polina Beliakova PhD23, Deborshi Barat PhD23, and Lydia Sizer PhD23.

Class Address

Every year, Fletcher students select one of their own to speak on behalf of the class at Commencement. In her address, Eda Kosma MALD23 spoke to the vexing, global challenges that she and her classmates came to Fletcher to tackle and how the school prepared them to embrace these problems and seek solutions in their careers.

“As incurable as these problems feel, I have learned that if you sit in Mugar Café for long enough, this deep freeze often starts to thaw,” said Kosma. “Because of the wide range of what we study at Fletcher, you’ll get a perspective from a legal pro, a security buff, or a financial whiz, who can help to fill in your blind spots with the lessons learned in another field.”

“Today, we are here,” she added. “And despite our doubts and the struggle to find a post-pandemic normal, we have built a radiant community from the many corners of the world, not only sharing our knowledge of regressions or trade law, but also ourselves and our cultures, through every Fletcher Feast and Thursday Night Diplomacy Club meeting at The Pub.”

Keynote Remarks

Following Kosma’s address, Dean Kyte presented Foreign Minister Haavisto with the Dean’s Medal. Initiated by Dean Ted Eliot in 1983, the Dean’s Medal is awarded in recognition of significant achievement in global leadership. Foreign Minister Haavisto is a celebrated diplomat with an abiding commitment to global security, climate policy, democracy, and human rights. Under his leadership as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Finland took a momentous step for international unity and last month became the thirty-first country to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). 

In a spirited speech, Foreign Minister Haavisto highlighted the significance of Finland joining NATO, the importance of digital thought and media literacy to confront disinformation, and the necessity for international cooperation to address the threats of climate change and biodiversity loss.   

“Every single person can choose to promote global peace and wellbeing. Every thought and every act counts,” he said. “Yet you as graduates of the oldest global affairs school in the United States are uniquely well-equipped to make real impact on your community and on the world around you. Now more than ever we need principled, values-based leadership to make our world safe, prosperous, and fair. I’m sure that each of you, wherever your path takes you after your time here at Fletcher, will rise to this challenge.”

“Peace, democracy, and human rights are always evolving, and there is an ongoing risk of backsliding no matter how strong a society is. This is why continuous efforts are needed from each of us individually and from all of us collectively,” he added. “If we invest in peace, we build our resilience against violent extremism and authoritarian tendencies.”

In closing, he offered an invitation to graduates as they begin their careers as practitioners in global affairs.

“The world is changing at an unprecedented speed, and you as global leaders have to be able to take on new challenges throughout your careers. While you may not know what lies ahead, the analytical and intellectual capacity that you have developed at Fletcher will serve you in any leadership position. At the same time, your own moral courage and core values will guide you in times of crisis,” he said.  “I look forward to seeing how you choose to move forward to make this planet a better place to live for everyone.”  

Presentation of diplomas

Diplomas were then handed out to the class of 2023 that included: 32 students who received the degree of Master of Arts; 180 students who received the degree of Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy; 12 students who received the degree of Master of Arts in Transatlantic Affairs; eight students who received the degree of Master in Global Affairs; 54 students who received the degree of Master of Global Business Administration; 33 students who received the degree of Master of International Business; 18 students who received the degree of Master of Laws in International Law; 10 students who received the degree of Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Public Policy; four students who received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Economics and Public Policy; and six students who received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in International Relations.

Following the presentation of the diplomas, Dean Kyte and Academic Dean Gallagher presented the diplomas to Fletcher’s 10 PhD graduates who were then hooded.

Dean Rachel Kyte concluded the ceremony and sent off the graduates of the class of 2023.

We celebrate your determination and hard work, your ability to overcome obstacles and meet difficult challenges. We celebrate your capacity to take on new responsibilities, create new possibilities, and develop new opportunities,” she said.

We hope you will delve back into your learning and connections developed here as you continue on. We will cheer you on and this will always be your home.”