CSC News

December 18, 2023

Congratulations Fall 2023 CSC Graduates!

The Computer Science Department at NC State is thrilled to offer congratulations to the nearly 200 graduates who were honored during the Department’s Fall 2023 Diploma Ceremony on December 16th.  Hundreds of friends and family members gathered in the James T. Valvano Arena inside NC State’s Reynolds Coliseum to celebrate the Fall 2023 Computer Science graduates.  This year’s graduating class of nearly 200 students included 21 PhD, 50 MS, and 124 BS degree recipients. 


The graduating class included two Park Scholars:  Emma Catherine Holincheck and Joshua Mason; one Benjamin Franklin Scholar:  Pranav Chockalingam; one University Honors Program participant:  Kanv Khare; five University Scholars Program participants:  Benjamin Phillips Albright IV, Avi Jignesh Choksi, Michael Allen Zulueta Dacanay, Cameron Scott Himes, and Alex Keith Taylor; and numerous members of a variety of scholastic honor societies.


The Fall Diploma Ceremony featured two undergraduate student speakers:  Emma Catherine Holincheck and Brantley Morgan.


In her remarks, Holincheck shared a favorite quote from the late US Navy Rear Admiral and pioneer of computer programming, Grace Hopper, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”  Holincheck told her fellow graduates that it’s imperative that they embrace risk-taking.  She said, “Similar to ships, our purpose is not to remain stagnant, rather we’ve been built by our professors, by our families, by our Pack, and most importantly by ourselves to venture forth and make a significant impact on the world.”  She went on to say, “…in life, when we feel anchored in a harbor, let us hoist our sails and venture forth to seek new challenges to conquer, for it’s in the pursuit of knowledge and learning that we truly flourish and grow.”


Morgan invited his fellow graduates to reflect on the journey that brought them here to graduation – the adversity they’ve overcome, the challenges they’ve faced and the friends they’ve made along the way.  He said, “As computer science majors, we share many of the same memories – all the late nights in Hunt Library working on ITrust2, all the quizzes Dr. Sturgill would give after his lectures, the countless weekly meetings we had with our sponsors in Senior Design, and all the times we used utilitarianism as a framework in ethics discussion posts.  All these memories are what unite us and make us proud to call ourselves NC State alumni.


“Right now, we have no choice but to look to our future, and while this may seem scary, CS Lewis once wrote, ‘There are far, far better things ahead than any we may leave behind.’  I want everyone to remember the memories we’ve made here, remember the reason you chose to study computer science, and remember that you have the power to shape your own future and leave a positive impact on the world.”


The keynote address was provided by NC State alumnus and Strategic Advisory Board member Chuck Kesler. Kesler, who earned an MBA and a BS in physics from NC State, is the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Pendo.


In his remarks, Kesler asked the students to think about how fast technology has evolved over the last century.  “We went from the first powered flight only 200 miles from here in Kittyhawk in 1903 to humans landing on the moon just 70 years later, just amazing!  Computers evolving from behemoths that filled entire rooms being powered by vacuum tubes, to desktop PCs with microprocessors in about 40 years.  And then 40 years on from that we now have these tiny computers that fit in our pockets with more power and storage than anybody could have imagined, and we can use these to connect with virtually anyone in the world to access the combined knowledge of all humanity.  It’s amazing to think that those types of incredible changes can happen within the span of a lifetime.”


He added, “You will have front row seats for those changes, and you’ll be the ones to help shape our future.  I hope that you’ll all embrace the unknowns and use uncertainty as a motivation to remain agile, adaptable, and always ready to learn.  I can’t emphasize that last point enough.  Much of the technical knowledge you have today, almost certainly will become less relevant or even obsolete over the next ten years.  I’ve seen this repeatedly in my own career.  Receiving your degree today is not the endpoint for your learning, it’s simply the launch point.”


He went on to say, “While you’ve gained all that tremendous technical knowledge through your courses, labs and projects, you’ve also become an expert at learning.  This is likely to become the most important tool you can use to guarantee your future success.  If you make continuous learning a lifelong commitment, you will always be able to succeed despite living in a world of constant change.  And if you devote yourself to continuous learning, you’ll be ready to take on the opportunities to stretch your current skills… Success comes from experimenting, trying new things, and embracing challenges even when you feel unqualified to do so.  This also means being prepared to fail.  Sometimes that’s going to happen, and it may happen more frequently than you’re comfortable with, but don’t let that fear stop you from taking on more challenges that inspire you.


“Fortunately, you don’t have to be alone in doing this.  You can ask for help.  I think over time some of the things you will find are the most powerful things in your life is to be humble and vulnerable.  No one has all the answers.  I’ve been part of teams that have made some amazing products.  The ones that have been the most successful have avoided the “hero culture,” instead, they encourage collaboration.  I’ve found that innovation most often happens when you bring together people with complimentary skills and diverse backgrounds who are willing to work together to solve complex problems.  So, take advantage of those opportunities when you have a chance and expand your horizons while learning from others, but also remember that there are others who can learn from you.  Make time to mentor those that you can help on their own journeys – there are many coming up behind you that can benefit from your guidance.  So always look for ways to give back to your community and industry, and yes, that includes this great university that you’re graduating from today.”


In closing, Kesler congratulated the graduates and told them, “I want to remind everyone that while your professional lives may be frequently demanding, remember that taking care of your family and your friends and yourself should be your top priority… Never forget to make time for them, to be part of the lives of those that are most important to you, and help provide fuel for their own happiness and success.  Finally, taking care of your own physical and mental health is also crucial to your success.  Don’t neglect your hobbies, your outside interests – even if you can just find 20 minutes a day – go outside and enjoy the fresh air and the sunshine.”


The ceremony can be in its entirety here.  Our special thanks go to the Computer Science Department ePartners Program, its participating corporate sponsors, and the NC State Engineering Foundation for their generous sponsorship of this ceremony.


Congratulations to all of our Fall 2023 Computer Science graduates! 



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