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Jessica H. Liao G recieves her doctoral hood for completeing her degree in Materials Science and Engineering at the hooding ceremony held in Rockwell Cage yesterday.
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Over 2,000 students will receive almost 2,500 degrees during this morning's Commencement ceremony held in front of an expected 10,000 guests.

As of Tuesday morning, 2,263 students confirmed they were attending the ceremony located in Killian Court, with 926 receiving undergraduate degrees, 913 receiving Master's degrees, nine receiving Engineer's degrees, and 415 receiving doctorates, according to Registrar Mary Callahan. These numbers include some students who received degrees in September or February but who will also walk across the stage today, Callahan said in an e-mail.

This year's Commencement Address will be delivered by Mechanical Engineering Professor and former MIT President Charles M. Vest. Vest was president of MIT from 1990 to 2004 and will begin a six-year term as president of the National Academy of Engineering on July 1.

In addition, Reverend Johanna Kiefner, MIT's Lutheran chaplain, will deliver the Invocation, Graduate Student Council President Eric G. Weese G and 2007 Class President Susan Shin '07 will offer salutes and President Susan Hockfield will address graduates.

"It's saddening that we have to leave behind MIT, which has given me a lot," Arthur J. Franke '07 said, "but it's also exciting all the tools MIT has given us we get to go outside and use to do better things." Franke, a Course VIII (Physics) major, is attending Columbia University for graduate studies in physics in the fall.

Franke described this week's senior activities as "a huge nostalgia trip about the last four years" as graduating students shared stories. This year's Senior Week activities included a wine tasting event, Duck Tours, and a Six Flags trip among other things.

"I'll really miss the place," said former Undergraduate Association Vice President Ruth Miller '07. "There's a lot that I wish I could have done, a lot of opportunities I missed, but I think everyone feels that way. The firehose analogy has been pretty accurate." Miller (also a Tech Campus Life columnist) will be working for the Center for Community Preservation and Planning in Georgia, focusing on regional public transportation issues. She will continue her studies at the London School of Economics, in the Master of Science in Regional and Urban Planning program in the fall.

"I feel it's very bittersweet in the sense that I had a great time at MIT and I will be leaving a lot of close friends, but I'm also looking forward to future experiences," Kimberly R. Kam '07 said. "I really loved MIT."

Kam, a Course III (Materials Science and Engineering) major, will be pursuing a doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley in Materials Science and Engineering. Kam said she hopes to work on tissue engineering research using biomaterials.

The Commencement exercises will take place in Killian Court, barring "very severe weather or other extraordinary circumstances," Gayle M. Gallagher, executive officer for Commencement, said in an e-mail. Guests would then view the exercises from locations across campus via MIT Cable as students receive their diplomas in Rockwell Cage.

According to Gallagher, this backup scenario is new this year, a result of discussions among faculty and students on the Commencement committee. In the past, guests and students would hear the speeches in Rockwell and diplomas would be mailed home.

Concessions will be available for purchase on Killian Court again this year. Last year was the first time concessions were sold at Commencement. According to Gallagher, they were well received, though the vendor Sodexho just broke even last year. If there are monetary proceeds, they will go towards the Senior Gift, Gallagher said.

The level of security during the exercises will be the same as it has been for MIT Commencement exercises since Sept. 11, 2001.

The ceremony can be viewed online starting today at http://web.mit.edu/commencement/2007/webcast.html. Additional information about today's Commencement exercises can be found at http://web.mit.edu/commencement/2007/.

Seniors donate for study abroad

Each year, members of the senior class can donate money that will count toward the Senior Gift campaign. The money can go to a group of the donator's choice or to the chosen class gift.

This year's Senior Class gift is an international study abroad fund, which will cover all costs necessary to study abroad, including travel expenses, accommodations, and food. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors will be eligible for this fund.

As of Wednesday, 491 gifts had been received, totalling $11,533 and giving the Class of 2007 a participation rate of 50 percent, said Senior Gift Advisor Rosheen B. Kavanagh, fund officer for the MIT Alumni Association.

The Senior Gift campaign had aimed for a participation level of 55 percent this year, hoping to top last year's record-high 51 percent participation rate for the Class of 2006.

"We still have a few days to go, and we're hopeful we'll exceed last year's rate and reach our goal of 55 percent this year," Kavanagh said. The deadline for donations was extended to today to allow students more time to contribute.

With a 50 percent participation rate, the Senior Gift committee is guaranteed a $15,000 match by MIT Alumni Association President Martin Tang GM '72. If the Class of 2007 reached 55 percent, Tang would donate $20,000.

According to Kavanagh, about one third of the participating seniors donated to the class gift. Tang's contribution will also go toward the chosen class gift.

Students who donate $50 or more became members of the "5.0 Club." According to Kavanagh, 83 donors belonged to the club as of Wednesday.

Additional information about this year's Senior Gift campaign can be found at http://web.mit.edu/senior-gift/.