The class of 2021 was honored on Saturday, May 22, with a Commencement celebration acknowledging the incredible academic achievements of more than 1,200 graduating students. The festive online event, which included live and recorded elements, invited students to mark the day with their friends and family around the world at the end of an unusual and extraordinary year. The program featured remarks from honorary degree recipient Dread Scott, Pratt President Frances Bronet, Pratt Board of Trustees Chair Bruce Gitlin, and other speakers.
In her opening remarks delivered live outside Main Building on the Brooklyn campus, President Bronet extolled how students have navigated this pandemic time with resilience, strength, and innovation. “This radical shift, this drastic disruption, gives us pause to remember that this is just one punctuation point where we recognize you—the extraordinary students who have distinguished yourselves through your leadership, academic achievements, your unbelievable work, and service to the greater Pratt community,” Bronet said.
Honorary degree recipient and speaker Dread Scott, an artist known for challenging and propulsive work who uses his practice to reexamine history and move it forward, addressed the class of 2021. He shared his experiences as a student in art school and how his choice to stay true to his vision shaped the rest of his practice into one that would make a difference. “I wanted my art to contribute to radically changing the world. So I had to decide to go against the grain.”
He reminded students that “art is a calling to people who don’t just see what is. We see what could be.” As they graduate into the next phase of their lives and careers, and make decisions about what those will look like and what they will value, he asked that students remember “what got you excited about art or design in the first place” and be guided by that passion.
He urged the students, no matter their disciplines, to take up the challenges of this moment and reminded them there is a power in creativity. “The world needs courageous rebels and revolutionaries now,” he said. “We need artists and designers that can vividly show the way the world is as well as imagine how it can be radically different.”
The ceremony united every Pratt graduate, regardless of their geographic location, in a joyful day of commemoration. Additional speakers included Heather Horton, adjunct associate professor of history of art and design, who was named Distinguished Teacher (2021-22), as well as elected student speakers Zhengyi Ellen Ren, BID ’21, and Xue Bai, MPS Arts and Cultural Management ’21. A rendition of the “Pratt Alma Mater” was performed by Anran Mina Li, BID ’21.
A downloadable Commencement program accompanying the online ceremony honors each graduating student. Specially designed class of 2021 animated stickers for social sharing on Giphy further enhanced the celebration. Graduates will also receive a physical “Graduation Pack” with printed publications and other commemorative items.
Pratt’s 2021 graduates are now part of a vibrant community of thousands of alumni around the world. Graduates and their family and friends can rewatch the ceremony on the class of 2021 Commencement page and continue to join in the celebration on social media with the hashtag #PrattGrad21.