Soaring With Purpose and Hope: Commencement 2016

READY FOR THE FUTURE: Expect "moments when you will need to fight for what you believe in — to step in and not step back," Interim President Lisa M. Lynch told the Class of 2016.
Mike Lovett
READY FOR THE FUTURE: Expect "moments when you will need to fight for what you believe in — to step in and not step back," Interim President Lisa M. Lynch told the Class of 2016.

Newly minted graduates were urged to discover their life’s purpose, never fear failure, and go forward with optimism and hope at Brandeis’ 65th Commencement ceremony, held on Sunday, May 22.

Thousands gathered in Gosman Sports and Convocation Center to celebrate the graduates and hear words of wisdom from distinguished speakers, including keynoter Julieanna Richardson ’76, an oral historian who created The HistoryMakers, the world’s largest video archive of interviews with African-Americans from all walks of life.

Honorary degrees were conferred upon Richardson; MIT professor Mildred Dresselhaus; filmmaker Agnieszka Holland; abstract painter Jack Whitten; and historic-preservationist Frank Brandeis Gilbert, grandson of the university’s namesake, Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis.

Student Union president Nyah Macklin ’16 kicked off the ceremonies with an electrifying performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which resulted in a standing ovation.

Interim President Lisa M. Lynch, who will resume her position as provost July 1, was also given a standing ovation in recognition of her steady leadership over the past year.

In her address, Richardson told the audience that her years at Brandeis planted the seeds for The HistoryMakers.

“My exposure to the Jewish tradition taught me so much about how to value history, heritage and legacy,” she said. “In fact, it is here, as a black person, that I found my identity, as well as my life’s passion and the freedom to pursue it.”

Richardson offered graduates this advice: Have passion, purpose and a plan; hold on through life’s darkest moments; mentor others; and go forth and do good.

“You may end up actually being the best generation yet,” she said. “You came of age as the nation was electing its first African-American president. [...] You have been witness to the breakthrough in the LBGTQ movement, and you have seen hashtags bring down countries and make change.”

During the day, Brandeis conferred 915 bachelor’s degrees. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences awarded 421 degrees, including 64 doctoral degrees. The Heller School bestowed 153 degrees. The Rabb School of Continuing Studies awarded 95 degrees. And Brandeis International Business School bestowed 185 degrees.

comments powered by Disqus