Princeton University’s senior class have selected 13 individuals as honorary members of the Class of 2020. Every year, the graduating class inducts honorary class members to commemorate faculty, staff, alumni and others who have left a particularly profound impact on their class.
By the Office of Communications
This year’s honorary class members include Princeton’s Muslim chaplain, Campus Dining and Facilities staff, program coordinators at the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, a lecturer at the Lewis Center for the Arts and many more.
The Class of 2020 celebrated its graduation during a virtual Commencement on May 31 and will be welcomed back to campus in May 2021 for a special in-person ceremony.
In emails to their peers, Class of 2020 officers Juston Forte, Jona Mojados, Alaa Ghoneim, David Freidman and Dayna Valek announced the selection of the following people as honorary class members.
Sohaib Sultan is the first full-time Muslim chaplain at the University and has been with the Princeton community for the past 12 years. He is a trailblazer in the field of Muslim chaplaincy, being one of the first individuals to hold that title full-time in the country.
“Since coming to Princeton, Imam Sohaib has created a vibrant community, and because of him, the Muslim community is thriving and visible on every level on campus,” the students said in their email to the Class of 2020. “Imam Sohaib is the epitome of practicing what one preaches. He radiates goodness, wisdom, grace and kindness in every interaction. He’s worked tirelessly to build community, always enjoining us to send Salaams (or greetings of peace) to those we know and those we don’t.”
The students added: “He calls on us all to consider our role in promoting justice in the world, works closely with the other chaplains and faculty to build stronger interfaith relationships, and helps Muslim students feel at home in a world often filled with tension. Sohaib’s impact isn’t restricted just to the Muslim community, but touches everyone Imam Sohaib meets.”
Arshe Ahmed has had an immeasurable impact on the Princeton Muslim community. For the past 12 years, she has been a source of support for the Muslim community, inspiring students through her actions and words. She is Imam Sohaib’s wife and has worked tirelessly to keep the Muslim Life Program office functioning. She has opened her home whenever anyone is in need, misses a flight, or needs a place to stay. She’s helped lead important conversations about organizing for the sake of building community, and teaching us all how to love those around us. Her dedication, optimism, compassion and warmth are felt by everyone who meets her. She has been a big sister to countless students.
“During our four years, we saw Sohaib and Arshe’s family grow when they adopted baby Radiyya in the spring of 2017. Our class saw her grow into a beautiful, energetic and playful little girl. Her lovely presence has given so much joy to many students over the past three years. We are proud to welcome Imam Sohaib and Arshe into the Class of 2020,” the students said.
Garfield Brown recently retired as an athletics facility crewperson. Brown working at Princeton in 1991 in the Department of Building and Grounds before transferring to Athletics. He helped maintain facilities for four different athletics programs including softball, men’s and women’s soccer, and wrestling, as well as helping a variety of other sports. He developed cherished relationships over the years with coaches, student athletes and staff before retiring in December 2019 after 28 years of service. “It is with great honor that we welcome him into the Class of 2020 for his work supporting our athletes on campus,” the students said.
Calvin Chin has been the director of Counseling and Psychological Services at University Health Services since 2013. In our time at Princeton, we have seen CPS evolve each year in its efforts to better serve the entirety of the student body. As we moved off-campus this spring, we experienced Chin’s impressive efforts to maintain student access to counseling resources at a distance through telehealth visits. “We happily welcome Calvin as a member of 2020 who persistently advocates and cares for the health of our community,” the students said.
Mario Moore is a lecturer in visual arts at Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts and a 2018-19 Princeton Hodder Fellow. During his fellowship, Moore painted portraits of African American staff members on Princeton’s campus, focusing particularly on blue-collar workers. Unveiled in fall 2019, Moore’s paintings were widely admired by the University community and beyond. “We are pleased to invite Mario into the Class of 2020 for his dedication to honoring diversity on our campus,” the students said.
Jes Norman is the education and outreach program coordinator at the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding. Norman oversees a peer education and leadership program student leaders engage the Princeton community in critical dialogue around identity, diversity, inclusion and social justice. Norman continually works to incorporate more critical and creative pedagogy on campus and in higher education while helping to celebrate the diverse experiences and cultures of students on Princeton’s campus. Norman has played an important role in providing training and workshop opportunities for staff and students connected to diversity, inclusion and social justice education. “We are honored to welcome Jes into the class of 2020 for Jes’ commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus,” the students said.
Cecilio Orantes is a custodian in Building Services for Wilson College. Originally from Guatemala, he came to Princeton more than 40 years ago and has been working in the Princeton area since. He has worked in Building Services for the last 11 years. He’s been a friendly and welcome face to everyone and is dedicated to Princeton. “He loves interacting with students and being at Princeton, and we’re excited to welcome into the Class of 2020 as he retires this year,” the students said.
Cathy Phillips joined Alumni Engagement in August 2016 and the first event she was tasked with planning was the Class of 2020 Pre-rade. She continues to work closely with alumni classes to support class officers in engaging their classmates. In addition, she plans and carries out numerous events such as alumni conferences, Alumni Day and Reunions. She’s spent several years planning and leading leisure groups and academic student travel in over 35 countries. In particular, Phillips has supported the Class of 2020 by helping students connect with alumni and coordinating class events. “We are excited to welcome Cathy into the class of 2020 for her behind the scenes work and dedication to our class,” the students said.
Lexy Parrill Sarstedt is in her fourth year of service to the University community. Joining the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS) in 2017 as program coordinator for first-year, she now acts as the director of Campus Club. In each of her roles, she interacts with students all across campus and works to uphold the traditions that make Princeton special. “We are proud to welcome Lexy into our class for her special connection to 2020 and her unwavering dedication to student life,” the students said.
Robert Walker has worked for Campus Dining since 1999, where he takes pleasure in getting to know his co-workers and students alike. Walker is famous at the Forbes College dining hall for his delicious cooking, and for remembering each student’s home country, state or town. He plays an immense role in maintaining the sense of community upon which Forbes prides itself while giving every visitor his warmest welcome. “We are overjoyed to welcome Bob into the Class of 2020 for his kindness, commitment and love for Princeton and its students (and his grilled cheese!)” the students said.
Laura Wooten, who died at age 98 in March 2019, was a beloved staff member in Butler and Wilson dining halls. She also played an important role in promoting civic engagement in Princeton as the longest-serving poll volunteer in the United States. Immediately after graduating Princeton High School in 1939, she was recruited by her uncle to work the election polls. In total, Wooten ultimately served for 79 consecutive years, under the administration of more than a dozen different presidents, and during five wars in local, primary and general polls in Mercer County, New Jersey. In 2018, the Laura Wooten Institute for Civic Engagement was founded to promote her commitment to the importance of voting as a civic responsibility. Wooten was also an elder of the First Baptist Church of Princeton, and she was a doting mother of five, a grandmother of 16, had 33 great-grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren. “We are honored to posthumously welcome her into the Class of 2020 for her work and outstanding impact on the Princeton community,” the students said.
Dionne Worthy is assistant to the chair and event coordinator in the Department of African American Studies. She originally started working at Princeton in August 2008 as a casual hourly employee and returned in 2010 to become a full-time staff member. Since then, the Department of African American Studies has become her home and she has actively cared for the students as if they were her own children. Dionne has left an indelible mark on the department and students in her time at Princeton. “We are proud to welcome Dionne into the Class of 2020 family for her work and genuine care for our class,” the students said.
Victoria Yu is a program coordinator at the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding. She is a resource for students and helps to coordinate, sustain, support and evaluate programs relating to the mission of the Fields Center. Since 2017, Yu has played a critical role in organizing cultural graduations during Commencement and in 2018, she helped organize the first Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) graduation. Due to COVID-19, Yu worked tirelessly with student affinity groups to provide graduation ceremonies virtually. She has played an important role supporting a wide group of students on campus. “We are honored to welcome Victoria into the Class of 2020 for her commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus,” the students said.
In addition, Class Day co-chairs and class officers said they regret the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prevented the Class of 2020 from holding its Class Day ceremony and honoring NFL star and social activist Marshawn Lynch. In February, Class Day co-chairs announced their selection of Lynch to address seniors during Class Day. Class Day is an event organized by the senior class and the Class Day speaker is usually inducted as an honorary class member during the ceremony.