WORCESTER, Mass. - It was a busy Saturday at Worcester Polytechnic Institute as the class of 2023 and thousands of well-wishers gathered for an on-campus commencement ceremony.

This year, Rep. James McGovern delivered the commencement address and focused on the important role WPI graduates will play in a world where the power of tech grows by the day. McGovern said while modern technology can help save lives and create a more equitable society, it can also be a weapon in the wrong hands.

He called on graduates to rise to the occasion and put their knowledge toward “the greater good.”

“Technology is just a tool, a means to an end," McGovern said. "It must serve us, and not the other way around. It should be used to advance our highest ideals, not the lowest common denominator. That’s why my message to all of you is don’t switch off your conscience. This message might not resonate right this second, but I promise you someday soon it will.”

For this year’s class of more than one thousand students, getting to this moment took a lot of resiliency. Being a college freshman when the pandemic arrived shaped their experience to some degree, but they didn’t let it bring them down.

Student Speaker Susanna Oppong is from Worcester, and before she heads off to medical school in California, she shared some important thoughts with her fellow grads about challenges faced by the world at large, and tragedies that hit close to home.

“We experienced some of our own crises and grieved as a campus, but still united," Oppong said. "We lost 7. We lost students that should be sitting with us here today. We witnessed wars on human rights, rights to education being revoked around the world, and rights to life being stripped away. And yet, we are still here.”

The class of 2023 also announced its gift to WPI -- a wellness walk. Locations around the campus will be marked as sites where students can rest and relax, including the Higgins House gardens, arbor swings and reflecting pool.

This ceremony followed Thursday night’s graduate commencement, where 784 master’s degrees and a record 88 doctoral degrees were bestowed.