More than a thousand of ITMO University’s graduates received their diplomas at the very heart of St. Petersburg, right by the walls of the Peter-and-Paul Fortress. The massive ITMO.Live event was traditionally held on the first Saturday of July and was available to locals, guests of the city and friends of the university. The top graduates received their diplomas from Rector Vladimir Vasilyev, Oksana Oracheva, the general director of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation and Daniil Utkin – one of the country’s most promising young students who achieved a total of 300 points on his Unified State Exam results. On that day, the attendants could entertain themselves in the interactivity zone: bond with their partner at the ITMO.LOVE zone, take home a portrait or a photo, try innovative ice-cream or become part of the university’s history through a video-message. The event culminated in a performance by the iconic St. Petersburg performers – Billy’s Band.
The first ITMO.Live event was held in 2016. Before then, ITMO University’s graduates would gather at the Oktyabrskiy Concert Hall. Starting with last year, it was decided that the graduation ceremony on Hare Island will become a tradition.
“This is an absolutely reasonable idea: after all, we are a global university and we represent St. Petersburg. It is our belief that our graduates, as well as the staff and students of the university, deserve to be able to show their achievements to the city, which is why this not an event behind closed doors, but a large-scale celebration. This tradition will undoubtedly be upheld and on August 31 a similar open-air event will be held to welcome our freshmen” – says ITMO University’s Rector Vladimir Vasilyev.
Just like last year, the beginning of the event was signaled by the mid-day cannon salute from the Naryshkin Bastion. This year, the honor of firing the gun was given to Polina Litvinenko, a Master’s program graduate from ITMO’s School of Lighting Design and Georgy Zograf, graduate of the Department of Nano-Photonics and Metamaterials.
“Back when I first came to St. Petersburg to study, I had been looking at several potential universities; but only at ITMO did nobody try to force a choice on me – they only considered my interests and offered me various options. Our professors did their best to make sure we learned as much about our trade as we could. This despite the fact that lighting design is a relatively novel field in Russia and is only becoming established” – says Ms. Litvinenko.
Mr. Zograf added that choosing to get his Master’s degree at ITMO University is what gave him the opportunity to take part in scientific work on a global scale. In his years of study the graduate has already finished a research project that landed him on the pages of the prestigious Nano Letters journal.
“In these two years, I’ve had a chance to work with a research team that is one of the leading in its field, and I think I’ve even somewhat managed to become a part of it and publish several articles in renowned scientific journals – something I couldn’t have imagined back when I first came here. I plan to apply to a postgraduate program and take part in a double degree program with a major European university,” – says Georgy Zograf.
Overall, 1170 of ITMO University’s graduates have been awarded the cherished “sheepskins”. The event, which, according to estimates, was visited by nearly 4000 people, was not spoiled even by the weather. Still, not only ITMO’s students were upstaged by nature this year. The Harvard University’s graduation ceremony, too, was accompanied by drizzling rain.
“We are meeting 2017 in good company – if anyone’s been keeping tabs, this year’s Harvard’s graduates, too, celebrated in a similar setting and weather conditions,” – joked Vladimir Vasilyev.
ITMO University’s Rector personally presented the university’s 37 top graduates with their diplomas. Oksana Oracheva, the general director of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, was the event’s honorary guest. With the Foundation’s help, ITMO University’s Development Endowment Fund received additional funding for its ITMO.FAMILY projects. Ms. Oracheva presented a certificate for two million rubles from the Foundation to ITMO’s Rector Vladimir Vasilyev.
The event also saw the appearance of one of Russia’s smartest school students: the graduate of Kurgan’s Gymnasium №31 Daniil Utkin. He is one of the few students who got the maximum scores on their Unified State Exam in three subjects – Russian, Physics and Maths. Mr. Utkin came to St. Petersburg to give his congratulations to the graduates of one of Russia’s top IT universities and the world record holder for most wins at the International Collegiate Programming Contest, as well as to apply for study at ITMO University. The young, but talented student dreams of opening his own IT company someday. Because of this, he says, he set his mind on enrolling at this particular university.
“I spoke to a lot of other school graduates and far from everyone wants to study in Moscow. When I was making my choice, I paid the most attention to a university’s quality of education as well as their infrastructure. In the end, I chose ITMO University and have already submitted my application to the renowned CT Department – the department of champions. I’m very interested in making a career in IT and I plan to open up my own business someday – something programming-related, of course. I hope that I will accomplish that, especially since here, at ITMO University, from what I’ve gathered, they prioritize the development of startups,” – shares recent high school graduate Daniil Utkin.
The ceremony was also attended by such figures as: Andrey Sebrant, Yandex’s Product Marketing Director; Roman Elizarov, an ITMO alum and head of development team of the much talked about language Kotlin; Sergey Khromov, CEO of “Start Development” construction company working on the satellite city Yuzhny; Denis Mescheryakov, Network Development Director of the North-West Branch of Megafon; Maksim Lazarenko, VP of Marketing for Baltika Breweries; Mikhail Troitsky, manager of the St. Petersburg office of “Alfa-Bank” OJSC; and many others. ITMO.Live was not only a place for alums of years past, but also for the friends of the university – those who have become a part of the ever-expanding ITMO.FAMILY.
Having received their diplomas, the graduates, along with guests of the event, continued their celebrations in the interactivity zones. The photobooths allowed visitors to preserve their memories of the event, while special gadgets let people print their best selfies that they just took in front of the St. Petersburg skyline. Guests could also make themselves a part of ITMO’s history by leaving a video message and giving a quick interview at the ITMO.FAMILY zone to the correspondents of “Megabyte Media”.
Some had come to the ITMO.LOVE zone to strengthen their bond – the guests who brought their significant others were given a wedding ceremony. The couples pledged to fix each other’s bugs, share their last bitcoin and were even given a “marriage” certificate. Those tired of the bustle could retire to the lounge-zone where they could take part in a game of giant Jenga or enjoy other board games. This was also where anyone could have their portrait drawn by an actual artist, get an ITMO-themed tattoo with images related to science, technology and graduation and simply spend a milestone event of their lives in a way they wouldn’t forget.
The attendants sustained themselves with nitrogen ice-cream and drinks provided by the School of Biotechnology and Cryogenic Systems. Throughout the day, one could buy souvenirs and clothing adorned with the university’s logos from the ITMO.STORE. The celebration ended with a concert by iconic St. Petersburg performers Billy’s Band. The band’s frontman Billy Novik joked about the weather in St. Petersburg and the songs he sang were just as emotional and heartwarming as the years the recent graduates spent at ITMO University.