Class of 2023 Celebrates Spring Commencement

By Cyndi Perkins

Published

Michigan Tech’s student speakers for Spring Commencement, undergraduate Anderson Piercey and graduating Ph.D. student Tinu-Ololade Folayan, will be joined by alumna Julie Fream. All three are ready to offer words of encouragement and inspiration to fellow Huskies heading into their next life chapters.

Three Huskies who epitomize commitment to campus and community service will address the Class of 2023 at Michigan Technological University’s Spring Commencement

More than 1,000 Huskies will celebrate a hard-earned and long-awaited milestone in ceremonies on Friday and Saturday, April 28 and 29. Graduate student commencement will be at 3 p.m. Friday. Undergraduate commencement is at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Both events will take place in the John J. MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex. 

Commencement Logistics

  • Free parking is on a first-come, first-served basis in Lot 22 adjacent to the SDC and Lot 24 near the football field. See the campus map for accessible parking locations and other sites related to the commencement ceremonies.
  • Can’t be here? Catch the commencement livestream.
  • Share your Husky Pride on social media using #mtugrad.

The new arrangement is designed to keep each ceremony to approximately two hours, making the memorable event more comfortable and meaningful for participants. 

Approximately 300 graduate students will participate in the ceremony marking the completion of their advanced degrees. Roughly 750 undergraduates will  cross the commencement stage to commemorate the finish of their bachelor’s degree coursework. Michigan Tech is also awarding 51 online graduate certificates this year, a university record.

Industry-Savvy and Community-Centered Featured Speaker

Automotive industry leader and Michigan Tech alumna Julie Fream will be the featured speaker at both ceremonies. This will be the third time on the commencement platform for Fream, who earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1983 and delivered the commencement speech in 2003. Fream, who holds a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School, said she’s looking forward to sharing her experiences as a way to help graduates enhance their own life journeys.

Michigan Tech alumna Julie Fream will address students at both commencement ceremonies this weekend.

As president and CEO of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturer Association (MEMA) Original Equipment Suppliers, Fream is the voice of automotive suppliers. Her four-decade career in the industry includes manufacturing, engineering, program management, sales, marketing and communications. A member of both Ford and Stellantis supplier councils and the Nissan North America Supplier Advisory Board, she was named one of Michigan’s most influential women by Crain’s Detroit Business in 2016 and 2021. She was recognized as one of the 100 Leading Women in the Auto Industry by Automotive News in 2015 and 2020.

“My passion for the automotive industry has always been about the product and the people. The creation of the next generation of vehicles has always been exciting for me,” said Fream, who is a board of directors member for the Automotive Hall of Fame. “Personal transportation is so important. It allows people to live more interesting and productive lives, whether they work in the industry or use the products.”

Fream served on the Michigan Tech Board of Trustees from 2011-18, chairing the board in 2015 and 2016. Previously she served on the Michigan Tech Fund board. A member of the Michigan Tech Alumni Board of Directors from 1988-2000, Fream was the first woman to chair the board. She currently serves as chair of the Corewell Health Board of Directors.

“For me, service has always been about giving back (perhaps a hint here regarding my commencement address),” said Fream. “I was helped and supported many times along the way and I believe in giving back in a way that helps others to have similar opportunities.” 

"Whether it is in education, health care or some other aspect, I want to see access available to our communities in a manner that best serves them."Julie Fream ’83, featured speaker, 2023 Spring Commencement

Asked who inspires her, Fream said she draws from many sources, including former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. “Her life story is inspiring. That she rose from the position she did was a phenomenal achievement.” 

Like many a Husky, Fream can attest to the inspiring and enduring nature of Michigan Tech memories. “A few of my favorites include finally getting my hands ‘dirty’ in the three-story Unit Ops lab my senior year of Chem Eng. Also, my sorority, Theta Chi Epsilon. Our bonds remain very special. And I enjoyed — and still enjoy — traveling and exploring the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Fream credits her husband of 27 years, Robert Lawrence, and their two “terrific” adult children, for helping her find success on her career, service and life path. “They have enabled me to do what I love to do!” she said.

Graduate Student Speaker Acclimates and Facilitates

Student speaker Tinu-Oloade Folayan, earning her Ph.D. in chemical engineering, will address fellow graduate students on Friday. Folayan’s hometown is Iludun-Oro, in the Nigerian state of Kwara. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Ilorin in 2015 and in 2018 took a leap into what she now regards as one the best decisions she has ever made.

Graduating Ph.D. student Tinu-Ololade Folayan enjoyed getting outside in all four Keweenaw seasons and learned to swim in the Student Development Complex pool. 

“Google brought me here,” she said, referring to the filtered search engine results that yielded a chemical engineering graduate program with the flexibility to use elective course credits for a minor in a secondary discipline. After Folayan earned her master’s degree at Tech in 2020, along with a graduate certificate in sustainable futures, she decided to stay and earn her Ph.D., compelled by the opportunity to research direct recycling of lithium-ion batteries in Lei Pan’s lab.

Folayan has served as president and vice president of the Michigan Tech Chapter of the National Organization for Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), social chair of the African Student Organization and as facilitator for her department’s Writing in the Discipline (Write-D) program, which assists graduate students with writing projects including manuscripts and research proposals.

She has earned several awards, including the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship, second place in the NOBCChE DuPont Gold competition, the 2022 Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration poster contest in the Mineral & Metallurgical Processing Division and the 2021 NOBCChE Green Chemistry and STEM Education Oral Presentation Award.  

Folayan, who had never experienced a northern winter before coming to Tech, counts Winter Carnival among her favorite Tech memories. “Building an All-Nighter statue was super fun. I was particularly surprised that the cold didn’t deter me. I am still very proud of that accomplishment,” she said.

After a short break that will include catching up on her favorite anime and reading fantasy novels — “Ph.D. is a long program,” she said, laughing — Folayan steps into her new role as a research and development senior engineer at DuPont. “I also plan to improve my photography skills and take more landscape pictures,” she said. 

Learn more about Folayan, and get her insights on graduate school life in the Keweenaw, at Stories From Husky Nation.

Undergraduate Student Speaker Helps Students Succeed

Undergraduate Student Speaker Anderson Piercey, who is earning his bachelor’s in management with a minor in psychology, will address the class of spring 2023 on Saturday.

Piercey, who hails from Shelby Township in lower Michigan, has been a senior resident assistant, resident assistant and academic success coach during his time at Tech, earning the highest regional award presented to affiliates of the National Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH) and being recognized by Michigan Tech Student Affairs in 2020 for exceptional enthusiasm in student leadership. 

Anderson Piercey was a resident assistant throughout his time at Tech and found numerous ways to build and nurture community.

He made his own memories in helping others to embrace Tech traditions

“One of my favorite memories of Michigan Tech (this is one of many!) is marching 68 residents from Wadsworth Hall to the Memorial Union Building for K-Day. It was the first time that I felt like a true student leader on campus,” Anderson said. “I made a lot of my residents come out of their shells for the first time, and the look of shock on peoples' faces as we took up an entire bus heading to Chassell was something I'll never forget.” 

Active in Pavlis Honors College and on the Dean’s List every semester, Piercey was a member of numerous campus and community organizations including the Society of African American Men (SAMM), Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Education (SAVE) and Mitch’s Misfits. He has volunteered with Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly, Friends of the Library, the Copper Country Humane Society and the MTU College of Business’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (Vita) program. He also worked as a research assistant for College of Business faculty member Jonathan Leinonen and participated in the Advanced Project Management competition. 

Anderson begins his career as an associate business analyst at Auto-Owners Insurance in Lansing. “I’ll also be pursuing my hobbies of reading, photography, hiking — I anticipate I'll be coming back up here for the best views! — and writing,” he said.    

Learn more about Piercey — and get his suggestions to help new students settle in on campus — at Stories From Husky Nation.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Last Modified 1:47 PM, December 8, 2023