Credit: Carson Kahoe

Amid selfies, Snapchat posts and teary-eyed emojis galore, the Class of 2017 took a final twirl around Franklin Field this morning, officially entering the ranks of Penn alumni. 

To mark the occasion of Penn's 261st Commencement, The Daily Pennsylvanian took a look at the stories that have defined the graduates' last few months at Penn, beginning with Monday's ceremony and going backwards to document the trends, events and people who dominated the Class of 2017's time in University City. 

Before addressing the Class of 2017 on Franklin Field Monday morning, students had sharp words for Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who was criticized as an overtly partisan choice for commencement speaker.

  • Students continued to debate Penn's speaker choice days before Commencement. “The past few speakers have had such a strong left leaning,” 2017 College graduate Samantha Rahmin said, referencing speakers such as former Vice President Joe Biden, John Legend, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers and actor-playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda.
  • Back in February, the DP's Opinion Board criticized Penn's choice of Booker in an editorial, noting how it continued a trend of having "unabashedly liberal" speakers address the assembled graduates.
  • Shortly after his selection, it was noted how Booker has a history of openly bashing President Donald Trump, a sharply divisive figure on campus. 

In the last few weeks of senior year, students told the DP about the favorite moments of their senior year, including Feb Club and Hey Day.

  • For College senior Nirupa Galagedera, the "Final Toast," which occurs at the same time as Hey Day, as her favorite tradition. “[Penn President Amy Gutmann] declares the junior class seniors, so then we were all standing there like ‘What are we then?’” Galagedera said. 

For athletes, leaving college (and the sport they love) is never easy. Eight Penn athletes spoke to the DP recently about saying goodbye and how they viewed their Penn journey to its end. 

  • “We had seven Super Bowls a year against each of the other Ivy teams,” said Nick Demes, a former offensive lineman and 2016 Penn football captain. “And we cherished each and every one of those games and so we had ground it out and yeah it made it easier, but it also made it that much more intense each of those seven games. Because we knew that was it for us.”

International students seeking an H1-B visa post-graduation have to face a hurdle well-known to most Penn students: ridiculously low acceptance rates.

  • Even after international students secure a sponsor for the H-1B visa, they still have to enter a lottery system for the visa which is known for having a low acceptance rate. In 2016, only 85,000 visas were granted out of 236,000 applications.

If there are more stories you'd like to see included in this package, please contact Executive Editor Dan Spinelli at 

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