Going Out in Style

In an address filled with passion and self-reflection, Geoffrey Canada, CEO and president of the Harlem Children’s Zone, called upon the 2014 graduating class to join forces to make America a better place for generations to come.

“Too often, we think that we can accomplish great things as individuals, but it takes our entire community to do what is necessary in this country,” said Canada, who spoke to more than 7,000 students, faculty, family members and friends attending Brandeis’ 63rd Commencement ceremony at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center on May 18.

Canada — named by Fortune magazine in March as one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders — founded the Harlem Children’s Zone, which provides more than 12,000 children and their families with a range of education, social and medical services from birth through college.

As he sounded his call to action, Canada exhorted his audience to focus on the possibilities that lie ahead: “The best of America is yet to come.”

During his address, President Frederick Lawrence noted a personal milestone — the graduates seated before him were freshmen when he was named to his post. “I began with you on Jan. 1, 2011,” he said, “and I have always thought of myself as a midyear in the Class of 2014. My family and I will forever be grateful to you, for the way you let us into your lives as fellow members of the Brandeis community.”

He reminded the graduates that, as they leave Brandeis, they are not alone: “As I told you four years ago … you are an undergraduate student for four years; you are alumni for the rest of your lives.”

At the main ceremony, Brandeis conferred 835 undergraduate degrees, 751 master’s degrees and 97 doctoral degrees to students from 91 countries. Almost half of this year’s undergraduate class earned double or triple majors.

Honorary degrees were awarded to Canada; Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and a principal leader of the Human Genome Project; and Malcolm Sherman, former chair of the Brandeis Board of Trustees.

In the Spingold Theater Center, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management awarded 131 master’s and doctoral degrees to students from 46 different countries. Dean Lisa Lynch, P’17, gave the diploma ceremony address, urging students to “hold yourself accountable for your words and actions, even when it’s not comfortable.”

At its 20th diploma ceremony, held in the Levin Ballroom, the Brandeis International Business School (IBS) bestowed degrees to 162 students from 47 nations. Brandeis IBS Dean Bruce Magid delivered the keynote address.

And at a diploma ceremony in the Faculty Club, the Rabb School of Continuing Studies awarded 74 Master of Science degrees across a broad range of informatics and technology management areas, 18 Master of Software Engineering degrees, and five graduate certificates. Eric Siegel ’91, an international expert in the field of predictive analytics — which uses data to forecast trends and behavior patterns — delivered the address.

“My advice to you is geek out,” Siegel told the Rabb audience. “Get into it. Find that thing in your work you get a thrill out of. The Holy Grail in your work life is finding that thing that gives you a kick.”

comments powered by Disqus