Pickering encourages graduates to make public service part of their lives

An ‘honorable and rewarding pursuit’

VIDEO: A look back at Commencement 2015

While Brandeis' newest graduates celebrated their academic achievements and
 contemplated their futures, they were encouraged to make public 
service part of their lives during the university’s 64th commencement
 ceremony on Sunday, May 17.

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VIDEO: A look back at Commencement 2015

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Ballerina Suzanne Farrell tells creative arts graduates: 'The arts are hospitals for our souls'

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Video and text of Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering's address

Video and text of President Fred Lawrence's address

Video and text of Bethany Adam's undergraduate address

Video and text of Allysha Roth's graduate address

Video of Leila May Pascual '15 singing the national anthem

Video of VoiceMale singing the Brandeis alma mater

Congratulations to Rabb School's Class of 2015

Brandeis IBS graduates encouraged to apply skills, make an impact around the world

Heller School celebrates Class of 2015

Class of 2015 cherishes Brandeis moments, anticipates future

#Brande15: Commencement social media wrap-up

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Speaking before more than 7,000 students, faculty, families and friends at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center, Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering called public service an “honorable and rewarding pursuit.”

“Service to country, to family, to friends, to our society remains an extremely important part of what determines our success as people, as a nation, and in our world,” said Pickering. “Public service will bring you the opportunity to be part of a mission that has the greater good in mind and the ability to advocate and make changes and to support and improve the lives of millions.”

Pickering has served six presidents during a diplomatic career that has spanned five decades, including as ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel El Salvador, Nigeria, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the United Nations. He has received numerous honors during his service to the United States, including the title of Career Ambassador, the highest honor in the U.S. Foreign Service, and the Distinguished Service Award, the State Department’s highest recognition.

Pickering said while public service unfairly comes under attack during political campaigns, it is a career for those who value integrity, honesty, self-sacrifice, knowledge, judgment and wisdom.

“Public service is part of the common cement that makes us a great country and a leader in the world,” he said. “But even more important, it makes great individuals even greater.”

President Frederick M. Lawrence, in his final commencement address, reflected on his five years at Brandeis and what he considered were some of his notable achievements.

He spoke with pride about revitalization of the Rose Art Museum, the investments Brandeis made in campus facilities and infrastructure, the university’s return to financial stability, its expanding network of alumni and friends, and the university’s commitment to financial aid (Brandeis provided more than $90 million in financial aid – the highest in its history – this year).

Lawrence, who will be stepping down as president on June 30, encouraged the graduates to embrace the changes that follow commencement.

“We have all been thinking quite a bit about transitions – you as you prepare to complete your Brandeis careers today and I as I prepare to complete my presidency next month.  Change,” he said. “Change can be disconcerting but change is also exciting. Change is about opportunity, about potential, about growth and, above all, about beginnings. After all, today is not called ‘conclusion’ or even ‘transition’ – it is called ‘commencement.’”

Brandeis conferred 957 undergraduate degrees and 877 graduate degrees and certificates. Nearly half, 464, of the undergraduates were double majors, and 29 graduates were triple majors.

Bethany Adam ’15 presented the undergraduate address and Allysha Gayle Roth, MPP ’15, presented the graduate student address.

Brandeis bestowed honorary degrees to Pickering, for his meritorious and longstanding service to the United States Foreign Service; Suzanne Farrell, who is recognized as one of the most celebrated ballerinas of modern times; Jamaica Kincaid, an author whose essays, short stories and books so effectively explore divisive issues, including race, colonialism, gender, loss and angst; Yotam Ottolenghi, a London-based chef, restaurateur and author of several best-selling cook books, including "Plenty" and "Jerusalem;” and Helen Hennessy Vendler, one of the most influential voices in poetry criticism in the English-speaking world.

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