A total of 667 students from the fall 2023 graduating class walked the stage Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, to earn their diplomas at Embry‑Riddle Aeronautical University’s commencement ceremonies, held at the Ocean Center, in Daytona Beach.
“As you face whatever comes next, be confident in your ability to solve complex problems, and to find success in dynamic and challenging environments,” Embry-Riddle President P. Barry Butler, Ph.D., told the graduating class. “As you move into this exciting new phase of your lives, you become part of an elite community of Embry-Riddle alumni, who continue to support and guide one another as professionals.”
Of the graduates, 524 were undergraduate degree earners, 112 were master’s earners, 13 earned doctoral degrees and 18 were Worldwide Campus students who walked in the Daytona Beach ceremony.
Student Class Council President Burtegeljin Gombosuren served as the event’s featured student speaker. An Aerospace Engineering graduate, she is a first-generation student originally from Mongolia. When she took the stage, she explained that her mother had traveled nearly 7,000 miles from home to attend the ceremony in person — and that she had no idea that her daughter would be the day’s featured student speaker.
“Mom, I made it!” Gombosuren said. “Your unwavering love was my guiding light.”
When Gombosuren started at Embry-Riddle as a freshman, she says she felt “lost and disconnected” in an unfamiliar land. “I was all I had,” she said — until a stranger noticed her struggling to open a stubborn door and stopped to help. Then, everything changed.
The stranger was a university advisor who introduced Gombosuren to various campus organizations. That kindness “opened the door to communities” that transformed her college experience, she said.
“Home isn’t defined by a location,” Gombosuren told her fellow graduates. “It’s defined by the connections we share — especially here at Embry-Riddle. This is more than just an educational institution. It’s a home. … We are all part of the class of 2023.”
During her time at Embry-Riddle, Gombosuren founded the Sigma Kappa sorority and served as vice president of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers campus chapter, in addition to her involvement in many other organizations and activities.
Another first-generation student, Emily Burrus, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, served as vice president of the Student Class Council, along with Gombosuren. She is from Long Island, New York, was recognized earlier this year as a Patti Grace Smith Fellow and has interned at both NASA and Blue Origin.
Bobbi Wells, vice president of safety systems, efficiency and compliance for American Airlines, as well as director of Safety on Embry-Riddle’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Operating Certificate, delivered the undergraduate keynote address. She also serves as chair-elect for the Flight Safety Council, is the past president of the International Aviation Women’s Association and previously filled high-ranking roles at FedEx and in the U.S. Army, among other distinctions. Her community-outreach efforts are also impressive, as she serves on the Board of Governors for the Flight Safety Foundation, and on the Department of Transportation’s Women in Aviation Advisory Board.
Dr. Joseph Keebler, Embry-Riddle professor of Human Factors, delivered the keynote at the graduate hooding ceremony.
Thirty ROTC cadets from Embry‑Riddle also commissioned into the U.S. Army at the event, seven commissioned into the Air Force, 14 into the Navy and nine into the Army.