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USC valedictorian gets standing ovation from classmates at graduation ceremony

USC’s valedictorian Asna Tabassum received a standing ovation and roar of applause Friday afternoon during her class’ graduation at the Galen Center, which comes after weeks of protests that came after her speech was canceled by the university.

Tabassum’s classmates in the School of Engineering were proud to share the moment with the valedictorian after they said she was unfairly silenced by USC.

“It was amazing, she deserves it, she deserves everything and it was really cool seeing her walk down the aisle,” said Toan Huynh who graduated with a degree in Computer Science.

The valedictorian’s speech was canceled in mid-April, USC cited unspecified security threats after some organizations complained about her social media posts supporting Palestinians. What followed were protests that dominated campus life where organizers demanded an end to the Israel-Hamas War in Gaza.

Police arrested nearly a hundred protestors and cleared the encampments twice, as a result, USC tightened security and called off the main ceremony.

“It was definitely chaotic, to say the least, I was a little disappointed,” said Luke Cortez who graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Annenberg Media and the Daily Trojan posted what would have been Tabassum’s speech on social media, most of what Tabassum provided was redacted.

It read in part “It is my honor to stand before you today as your valedictorian. I am filled with gratitude to have the privilege of ….”

Tabassum’s classmates said they erupted with cheers when her name was announced Friday to show support after losing her opportunity to speak at graduation.

“It was good. That was our form of speech we voiced our opinion through that cheer and support,” said Cortez.

On Thursday night Tabassum also received a standing ovation from fellow USC graduates, faculty, and guests. This happened at one of USC’s smaller graduation ceremonies, which were spread out across four days after the school altered the commencement. A show of solidarity from the class of 2024 to honor their valedictorian.

“I felt proud of our class for sure, and I felt it was just amazing to be able to be part of that and see her get the commotion she deserved,” said Amanda Akrawi who graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

USC celebrated at the LA Coliseum Thursday night to replace of the main commencement ceremony. Graduation events for the class of 2024 continue through Saturday.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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