A Wonderful Commencement

May 14, 2018

Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,

Yesterday, the university joyfully celebrated its 67th Commencement exercises, with 916 undergraduates and 904 graduate students receiving their degrees. As always, we celebrated their accomplishments, the groundbreaking scholarship of our faculty, and the experiences of the outstanding individuals who received honorary degrees. Very appropriately, since it was Mother’s Day, nearly all our speakers paid special tribute to the many proud moms and grandmothers in the audience.

Our Commencement speaker, Freeman A. Hrabowski III, brought to the podium a deeply inspiring life story: As a 12-year-old growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, he joined a civil rights protest that landed him in jail with other youngsters, where they received moral support from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Now Dr. Hrabowski is the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Like Brandeis, UMBC is a young institution, founded in 1966, and, like Brandeis, it boasts a tradition of inclusivity.

I hope you’ll watch or read Dr. Hrabowski’s inspiring speech to our graduates. He reminded them, “The way you think about yourselves, the language that you use, the way you interact with each other, the values that you hold, will be so important. You become like the things you love. I challenge you today to dream about the possibilities. It was Harriet Tubman who said, ‘Every great dream begins with a dreamer.’ And you have this possibility.”

I also invite you to watch the performance by another of our honorary degree recipients, legendary Israeli singer-songwriter Chava Alberstein, who sang “A Prayer From King David” in Hebrew during the ceremony.

I always find Commencement invigorating. It’s a chance not only for our graduates to begin the next chapter in their lives but for Brandeis to begin its important work anew. Thank you for your commitment to helping us in this work. May the summer months give you an opportunity for exploration and renewal.