A Commencement Day that Was Twice as Nice
May 20, 2022
In a Commencement day for the history books, NYU celebrated three classes of graduating students in an unprecedented “doubleheader” event honoring the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 at Yankee Stadium this week.
On Wednesday morning, the Class of 2022 and their families and friends gathered for a traditional morning ceremony—NYU’s first in-person all-University Commencement in three years. Singer, songwriter, producer, and director Taylor Swift received a Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa, at the morning ceremony and addressed the graduates on behalf of the honorary degree recipients, including Susan Hockfield, President Emerita and Professor of Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Chancellor of the City University of New York.
“Life can be heavy, especially if you try to carry it all at once. Part of growing up and moving into new chapters of your life is about catch and release… Decide what is yours to hold and let the rest go. Oftentimes the good things in your life are lighter anyway, so there’s more room for them.” —Taylor Swift
As President Hamilton addressed the nearly 19,000 graduates under sunny skies, he spoke about the unique circumstances this class has faced over the past several years:
“During your time here the world was also transformed, and there too, you carved out a path. You protested for social justice, for global peace, and for a more sustainable world. You protected one another, spoke up for equality, and stepped up as allies. Not only have you made a path where there was no road, but you did so with a remarkable degree of generosity while facing your own personal challenges and the unknown.”
Wednesday evening, lifelong disability rights advocate Judith Heumann received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, delivering the degree-recipients’ address to the Classes of 2020 and 2021 on behalf of fellow honorees Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and Jill Lepore, Harvard professor of history, author, and journalist.
“The tempering you’ve experienced in the forge of the pandemic has made you stronger, even when you might not always feel that way. That’s why I’m so excited about the world you are going to rebuild and are already shaping with your creativity, your power, and your diverse voices.”—Judith Heumann
In his address to the Classes of 2020 and 2021, President Hamilton acknowledged the unprecendeted experience of presiding over a Commencement for already graduated students.
“Now in a Commencement speech it’s customary for a university president to set the tone before students go out into the world and continue their new lives. But being as you've already been out on your own for a year or two, the tables are somewhat turned today. I would venture to guess that we have a lot to learn from you.”
He later continued,
“In many ways we are in a time of reckoning. Of taking stock of the world around us and what we value. For many of you, your time at NYU was during a politically fractious era. And we meet here at Yankee Stadium when, though the world is now opening up, world peace is under threat. In spite of the unease, we saw you, graduates of 2020 and 2021, challenge your thinking and explore new perspectives, and these are values we’ve already seen you take into your new lives.”
The evening ceremony concluded as violet fireworks exploded over Yankee Stadium, capping off a historic day for the NYU community and welcoming nearly 60,000 as new NYU alumni.
Tisch grad Amaya Guevara Beristain (TSOA ’22) brought the NYU alumni community along with her for Commencement day; check out our saved Instagram story to see the historic day captured from a grad’s perspective.
Class of 2021 alum and writer and rapper Lucca DL (STERN ’21) helped us welcome and celebrate nearly 60,000 graduates from the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 to the NYU Alumni Association with an original performance touting the many benefits of being an NYU alum.