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Students pause for a photo while lining up in Woollen Gymnasium before the 2023 departmental commencement ceremony
May 16, 2023

More than 2,500 family members, friends, and loved ones gathered at Carmichael Arena to celebrate computer science graduates from winter 2022, spring 2023, and summer 2023.

With 510 total graduates across all degree programs, the 2023 commencement marked the largest in the department’s history. The department recognized 15 doctor of philosophy degrees, 39 master of science degrees, 289 bachelor of science degrees, 143 bachelor of arts degrees, and 24 undergraduate minors conferred over the past year.

Bachelor's graduates leave the stage with certificates, smiling to friends and family in the audience

Department Chair Samarjit Chakraborty led the commencement ceremony, welcoming the enthusiastic crowd to the 57th commencement in the department’s history. He stated, “We’re the second oldest computer science department in the country, and with this graduation, we’re now well into our second half-century of research and teaching in computer science. But while we’re proud of our history, we have to put this into perspective. We have to remember that as a discipline, we’re young compared to many other departments on this campus, which is celebrating its 219th commencement.”

Faculty and students recognized for their contributions

During the event, several graduating students and faculty members were recognized with individual awards. The undergraduate Class of 2023 honored Professor Brent Munsell with the Undergraduate Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, recognizing his outstanding personal support for students and unwavering commitment to excellence in teaching, mentorship, and research.

Professors Donald Porter and Soumyadip Sengupta were honored by the graduate Computer Science Student Association with the CSSA Excellence in Teaching Award. Porter was praised for his exceptional intelligence as a teacher, juxtaposed against his ability to stay modest, approachable, and humorous, making challenging coursework interesting and engaging. Sengupta was recognized for his willingness to answer difficult questions while also being supportive, respectful, and approachable.

Additionally, graduate teaching assistants and undergraduate learning assistants were acknowledged for their contributions. Mykhailo Shvets received the 2023 John M. Glotzer Teaching Assistant Award for his proactive aid in course design and support for students. The Diane Pozefsky Learning Assistant Awards were presented to Jesse Wei and Mason Laney. Wei was recognized for his work in supporting student success through resource development and being available and patient in addressing questions. Laney was praised for his ability to work alongside faculty, providing invaluable feedback on course materials and helping students truly understand their coursework.

“Five reasons computer science students are undeniably, unequivocally, and without any bias, the coolest people ever.”

Graduating CS major Claire Helms delivers the Class of 2023 lecture during the departmental commencement ceremony
Graduate Claire Helms delivers the Class of 2023 lecture during the departmental commencement ceremony

Representing the Class of 2023, Claire Helms was chosen to deliver a commencement speech (pictured at the top of the page). Helms exemplifies the unique spirit of Carolina computer science students, having been highly involved in the department, served as a teaching assistant for COMP 110 and COMP 423, been part of the first CSXL Lab leadership cohort, and pursued minors in advertising and communication and music.

Helms expressed, “Like many of you, I came to UNC without any idea I would fall in love with computer science. Alternative plans for my summer break led me to take COMP110 for fun, and I was hooked.” She extended her gratitude to her computer science classmates and faculty for creating a sense of community at UNC and described what makes computer science students unique and special with an iterative list:

Helms went on to thank CS classmates and faculty for making UNC seem smaller with its sense of community. She also described what makes computer science students unique and special with an iterative list (in true computer science fashion, the list begins at 0 instead of 1):

4: Computer science students are never satisfied.
3: We regularly brave the unknown.
2: We are multidisciplinary and authentic.
1: We care for each other.
0: We reflect and prepare for the next iteration.

Students and guests celebrate in Sitterson Hall

Briana Scurry, Mazin Shaaeldin, Stephanie Johnson, and Melissa Gunnell pose for a photo in Sitterson Hall
[left to right] Briana Scurry, Mazin Shaaeldin, Stephanie Johnson, and Melissa Gunnell pose for a photo during the reception in Sitterson Hall.
Following the ceremony, students and their loved ones joined faculty and staff for a reception in Sitterson Hall. Graduates, like Mazin Shaaeldin, reflected on his time in the department. “I will never forget the love and support that the CS faculty and staff (Briana [Scurry], Melissa [Gunnell], Erin [Lane], Stephanie [Johnson], Kris [Jordan]) and so much more exhibited. They made my time at UNC a joyful and memorable one.”

Graduate Emma Koslow added, “The computer science program at UNC is such a collaborative experience. As much as it reflects how much I learned, it also represents the people in the department that I have worked with, laughed with, and accomplished with. Going into the tech industry, I know I will be prepared to work hard, keep up my education, and work with others to accomplish amazing things.”

Shaaeldin, Koslow, and their cohort of 500+ are off to make an impact and will represent UNC Computer Science in industry, research, and academia.

Photos of each graduating student were taken at Carmichael Arena by Photo Specialties. If you would like to purchase photos from the event, please email or call 919-967-9576.