Commencement 2017: A Grad's Perspective
May 22, 2017
Relive your commencement memories by following Jenna Yonker's (TSOA ’17) journey through Yankee Stadium. Jenna graduated last Wednesday with her fellow classmates, capturing all the action live with her GoPro strapped to her graduation cap.
The sun was shining, instruments were chiming, and Yankee Stadium was awash in a sea of violet, as the graduating Class of 2017 celebrated the culmination of their hard work and dedication, and beginning the next chapter of their lives.
The bright blue skies reflected the euphoric mood at NYU’s 185th Commencement, as the familiar procession of faculty, administrators, deans, and student representatives walked the grounds, their faces lit up in excitement. The traditional NYU pipes and drums preceded the University leadership and honorary degree recipients as they waved jubilantly to the expectant crowds. The NYU Alumni Association was present as always, with NYUAA President Heather Cannady (CAS ‘04) walking the purple banner across the field and introducing video messages from alumni Bill de Blasio (WSC ‘84), Ali Stroker (TSOA ‘09), Ted Allen (GSAS ‘90), Alec Baldwin (TSOA ‘84)—and more—congratulating the Class of 2017.
Roxanne A. Roman (NYUSH ‘17) perhaps reflected the mood best as she addressed her classmates.
“Last night, the Empire State Building shone violet. Look up to violet skyscrapers around the world, and know the future is lit”.
We know the future of our NYU graduates is bright. Musician, songwriter, and composer Pharrell Williams—who received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree—elicited huge cheers from the crowd with his prediction for just how far our students will go.
"I know someone out there might just occupy the White House someday. And let me be clear. Not blue, not red, but purple—like NYU!"
Other honorary degree recipients included Thomas R. Frieden, one of the world's foremost authorities in public health; Barbara A. Mikulski, the first female Democrat elected to the Senate; Jean-Marie Pierre Lehn, chemist, scientist, and professor; Melissa V. Harris-Perry, professor, author, and public speaker steadfast in the pursuit of social justice; and Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly:
"Beyond your stunning individual achievements, you two share a story of abundant love, indomitable will, and rugged courage in the struggle to recover from devastating injuries inflicted by gun violence. Your selfless decision, taking on vigorous public service roles designed to encourage elected officials to enact laws that make our community safer, was in keeping with careers marked by service and devotion to duty."
- Anna Harvey, Interim Dean Graduate School of Arts and Science, reading the citation for Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly
NYU's 16th President, Andrew Hamilton presided over the ceremony—his second one as President—with trademark candor and wit. He cleared up any confusion, joking "For those of you who are here to cheer on our nearly 10,000 newly-minted NYU graduates, welcome to Yankee Stadium on this most special day. And for those of you who strolled in here thinking you were buying tickets to the upcoming series with the Red Sox, well, welcome to you as well."
"As I stand on the second base on Yankee Stadium and look out on the brilliant sea of violet in front of me, and I catch the scent of hot dogs and popcorn, I think of all of your accomplishments and of your loved ones' pride. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that nothing can beat this."
- Andrew Hamilton, NYU's 16th President
The Steinhardt Singers belted out their tribute to New York and the Class of 2017, singing the famous Frank Sinatra line that defines this great city—"I want to wake up in the city that never sleeps". It looks like many of you feel the same. But wherever you go, remember that you will always be home in New York City, and of course, at NYU.