Meet the GSD Class of 2021 Commencement Marshals

Graduating students from each program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design come together to nominate and elect a classmate to serve as their commencement marshal. Being selected as a commencement marshal is one of Harvard’s most beloved traditions and is a high honor for a graduating student. After Commencement, the marshals become the alumni liaisons for their class cohorts.

Meet the graduates who will represent their program at the GSD’s virtual commencement ceremony:

Architecture: Brayton Gregory

Headshot of Brayton Gregory.A native of Greenville, SC, Brayton studied architecture at Clemson University before enrolling at Harvard to join the Master in Architecture I program. When not working on studio projects or other coursework, Brayton could be found on the pitch with teammates from GSD Soccer. In his free time, he enjoys going for bike rides, cooking, and traveling.

Landscape Architecture: Ciara Stein

Headshot of Ciara Stein.Hailing from London, England, Ciara received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, focusing on urban studies. Upon graduating from Penn, she was awarded the Robert A. Fox Leadership Fellowship and worked for two nonprofits in New Orleans that focused on affordable housing and community development (Providence Community Housing and HousingNOLA). In addition to pursuing a dual degree in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at the GSD, Ciara was the lead organizer for Womxn in Design’s International Womxn’s Week 2021, took part in the 2019-2020 Climate Leaders Program, and was a member of Harvard Urban Planning Organization and Organizers for Radical Climate Action at the GSD. In the summer of 2020, she served as a Community Service Fellow, working with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Ciara has exhibited at the Kirkland Gallery and her work was part of the Design Yard Sale.

Urban Design: Adam Mekies

Headshot of Adam Mekies.Adam is a licensed landscape architect whose work focuses on the role of computation and construction in environmental and ecological design. He is a graduate of Iowa State University and co-author, with Bradley Cantrell, of Codify: Parametric and Computational Design in Landscape Architecture. His recent work for the New York office of Sherwood Design Engineers focuses on ecological and technological infrastructure for public and private real estate. He is receiving a Master of Landscape Architecture in Urban Design from the GSD.

Urban Planning: Sarah Smyth

Headshot of Sarah Smyth.Sarah Smyth grew up in Alameda, CA, and studied political science at UCLA. Prior to graduate school, she spent a year in public affairs consulting as a Coro Fellow. Her work spanned public, private, and nonprofit clients across the topics areas of education, technology, diversity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability. Inspired by her experience growing up in the Bay Area, Sarah is interested in exploring equitable economic growth for communities of color and strategies for addressing the consequences of gentrification. At Harvard, she explored these topics through her work as co-president of the Harvard Urban Planning Organization, housing fellow for the Access to Justice Lab at Harvard Law School, and research assistant for the Just City Lab at the GSD. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, dancing, live music, and spending time in the outdoors.

Design Studies: Kevin Liu

Headshot of Kevin Liu in front of a virtual Sydney Opera House.Kevin is a native of Sydney, Australia. After receiving a Bachelor of Design in Architecture and a Master of Architecture at the University of Sydney, he worked as a registered project architect at an award-winning residential architecture practice on the central coast. Before that, Kevin was a partner in his own practice, TYP-TOP Architecture Office, which he set up with a friend from school after being shortlisted as one of five finalists out of 144 international entrants in a competition for a new aquatic center in Sydney. Awarded the Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship, Kevin enrolled at Harvard to pursue a Master in Design Studies with a focus on History and Philosophy of Design and Media. During his time at the GSD, Kevin served on Student Forum and was co-chair of the Design Research Forum, the student organization of the MDes program. Outside of his coursework, he is an avid printmaker, working mostly with copper etching and mezzotints.

Design Engineering: Arushi Saxena

Headshot of Arushi Saxena.After growing up in Sacramento, CA, Arushi attended UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, graduating with a BS in Business Administration. She then worked as an advisor to senior leadership in the technology sector on business strategy and financial insights at companies including LinkedIn and Her overall professional experience spans strategy & operations, organizational behavior, and finance. At Harvard and the GSD, she focused her research on misinformation, privacy, data ethics, and positioning the technology industry to better manage unintended consequences on society, cities, and the environment. She was actively involved with Harvard Bloomberg City Leadership Initiative, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and Harvard’s Belfer Center, and served as a teaching fellow for MDE’s Core Interdisciplinary Studio. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, exploring the outdoors, and volunteering.

Doctor of Design: Julia Smachylo

Headshot of Julia Smachylo.Originally from Toronto, Canada, Julia studied at Queen’s University, University College London, and the University of Toronto before enrolling at Harvard. She then worked as an urban planner, designer, and adjunct professor before deciding to pursue her Doctor of Design. While at the GSD, Julia was involved in the Urban Theory Lab and New Geographies, and served as a DDes representative. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, yoga, and gardening.