Park Scholarships Class of 2023 Gathers to Celebrate their Commencement

On Thursday, May 4, the Class of 2023 came together with their Park Faculty Scholars, mentors, family and friends to celebrate their time in the Park Scholarships program. The group gathered at the Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center for a presentation from members of the Class of 2023, Chancellor Randy Woodson and Eva Feucht ‘02, director.  

Anna Gessner ‘23 and Megan Cislo ‘23 kicked off the event with a trip down memory lane and a heartfelt thank you to those who have supported them over the years.

Anna Gessner speaks at podium and Megan Cislo stands behind her
Megan Cislo ’23 and Anna Gessner ’23 addresses the Class of 2023

“Four years ago, we could not have predicted what our college experience would look like,” said Anna. “We arrived on campus the week before classes started, excited to get to know each other and jump into life at NC State. Despite being separated from one another early on in our college career, we continued to form deep friendships and connections with one another and our community. We not only displayed incredible perseverance, but we continued to thrive and excel above and beyond our circumstances.”

Chancellor Randy Woodson addressed the Class of 2023, noting that the last four years have been unpredictable and difficult.

“The Park Scholars that are here today have shown an amazing amount of reliance. I will acknowledge the challenging year we’ve had; it’s been a challenging year for all of our students. But they persevered and I’m so proud of them for their level of resiliency. To the Class of 2023, NC State is proud to have been a part of your journey these last four years.” 

Chancellor Woodson on stage speaking at the podium
Chancellor Woodson speaks to the Class of 2023

Nicolas Muecke ‘23 followed the Chancellor’s address as the Class of 2023 speaker. He recapped some of their kick the bucket videos and reminded everyone that the value of the Park Scholarships program isn’t in their accomplishments and success, but in their support of each other and the community.

“As a class we have participated in study abroad programs all over the world, presented research in Japan and Senegal, directed short films, released music with millions of listens, completed internships from Fortune 100 companies and prestigious national laboratories, researched everything from improving vaccine production during the pandemic, to brewing beer, to studying orthopedic mechanobiology, founded nonprofits, and ran successful businesses – and this is just scratching the surface,” said Nicolas. “The diverse accomplishments of the Class of 2023 reflect the impact of the Park Scholarship program, which cultivates a community of individuals committed to both academic excellence and making meaningful contributions to society. However, it is not just the impressive achievements that define this group, but the support we provide for each other and our shared mission to create positive change in the world.” 

Anna and Megan then gave a meaningful thank you to the Park Faculty Scholars, Cyndi Edgington and Kanton Reynolds, along with a photo album of the last four years.  

“We are incredibly grateful for each of you and, I think we speak for everyone in our class and the greater Park community when we say that we could not imagine the last four years without you,” said Anna. “You are loved by our class beyond words.”

After accepting their gifts, Dr. Edgington and Dr. Reynolds gave an emotional goodbye, promising to support the scholars long after graduation, and praising them for their accolades and achievements. 

Cyndi Edgington stands on stage speaking to class of 2023 at commencement, Kanton Reynolds behind her
Cyndi Edgington, Park Faculty Scholar for the Class of 2023
Kanton Reynolds stands on stage speaking to class of 2023 at commencement
Kanton Reynolds, Park Faculty Scholar for the Class of 2023

Eva Feucht ‘02, director, closed out the ceremony with some encouraging words and a reminder of the community of supporters backing them.

“I know you all can do this and I know you all will do this. In fact I’m pretty sure there’s nothing that you all can’t do. I know this because you’ve been through challenges before, and I’ve seen you come through on the other side. The world was a very uncertain place during your college years, and it will be uncertain again and again in the future. You will face plenty more challenges. But the good news: you have everything you need not only to navigate the challenges, but to excel. You have proved you have the resilience and talent to succeed in difficult circumstances, and make meaningful contributions to improve your communities. You each have an arsenal of skills and training to help you thrive in whatever career you pursue. You have an incredible fan club. Just look at the people here today celebrating you. You have a powerful network to propel you forward.”

Congratulations to the Class of 2023! 

View and download photos from the Class of 2023 Commencement.