Historic Commencement Ceremony in Fenway Park

Celebrates Graduates’ ‘Inspiration, Determination, Intellect’

To watch a recording of the ceremony and learn more about this year’s award winners, click here.

The crowd roared in Fenway Park on Saturday evening—but for Northeastern’s newest graduates, the celebration in the storied stadium was even sweeter than a late-inning grand slam over the Green Monster. In an unprecedented May 8 commencement ceremony capping a year like no other, Interim Dean and Senior Vice Chancellor Mary Ludden lauded their achievement, thanking graduates “for your inspiration, your determination and your intellect.”

In her opening remarks—which, like the entirety of the ceremony, were livestreamed worldwide—Ludden praised graduates’ perseverance “through the disruptions, difficulties and heartache of a global pandemic,” and their “adaptability, resilience, acumen and multi-tasking” as many balanced family, professional and community responsibilities with their studies.

She also celebrated the contributions they have made to Northeastern’s community of learners.

“Through your global engagement,” she said, “you have developed the cultural competencies needed for a lifetime of contribution in a fast-paced, diverse, global society. Through your experiential learning activities, you’ve addressed pressing, real-world problems, and are well-prepared to lead from your experience in the workplace.  Your transformative Northeastern education has challenged you and you have challenged us and enriched the lives of those around you.”

With hundreds attending both in person and virtually via livestream, the excitement in the air was palpable as more than 1,500 degrees were conferred: four Certificates of Advanced Graduate Study, 315 bachelor’s degrees, and 1,259 master’s degrees. Carefully observing social distancing and other pandemic safety measures, graduates and their guests celebrated with cheers and elbow and fist bumps.  A virtual recognition ceremony honoring graduates at regional campuses was held the day prior.

Extraordinary Educators

During the ceremony, Dave Hagen, Associate Teaching Professor, presented the 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award to faculty members Carolyn Boviard and Jacques Alexis on behalf of the college.

Jacques Alexis and Carolyn Boviard

Students in the Master’s in project management program who nominated Professor Alexis for the award described him as a dedicated, inspiring teacher who facilitates practical learning and offers supportive and thorough feedback. As one student put it, “[Professor Alexis] is very knowledgeable and explains every topic in detail. He not only helps us within the class but also after the class. … He is not only a good teacher but also a good human, very humble and passionate about his work.”

Professor Boviard’s students in marketing, brand management, and entrepreneurship in the College of Professional Studies and D’Amore-McKim School of Business described her as a passionate and transformative teacher who fosters rich critical conversations and goes above and beyond to support their success. One wrote, “Professor Carolyn Boviard has continued to demonstrate outstanding patience, leadership, and a true passion for teaching during class despite difficulties brought on during the pandemic. She has made the class very interesting and easy to engage with in an online hybrid environment that is not easily achievable.”

In her speech, Professor Boviard shared her personal and professional journey to her dream of teaching, and exhorted the graduates to work hard and follow their highest calling. “Don’t be afraid to jump in,” she said. “Do what you love. Take a chance. Because if you do what you love, it won’t be work. And you will be good at it.” Dr. Alexis offered graduates his congratulations on their “splendid achievement,” and praised their ability to work together despite adversity, saying “all of this happened because of your collaborative spirit, creativity, resilience and motivation.”  

Armaya Doremi Invites Classmates to ‘Be Brave,’ Stuns with Song

In her remarks to graduates, student speaker Armaya Doremi, who earned her master’s degree in corporate and organizational communication, described her life in Indonesia, where she began working at 15 to help her parents pay the bills, later worked as a singer and DJ, and put her study of English into high gear when she learned she had been awarded a government scholarship and had 10 months to prepare to study at Northeastern.

Armaya Doremi, CPS ’21

Her journey at the university, Doremi said, began with Global Pathways, “a program that ushered me to American graduate school.” That experience laid a solid foundation for her success in her master’s program at CPS, which culminated in a capstone project that she said “helped me prepare for a real-world setting and raised my awareness of the demands in the professional world.” The experience, she said, inspired her to create an education consulting business for Indonesians.

Quoting the first Indonesian president, Sukarno, Doremi advised her fellow graduates that “‘Whoever wants pearls, must dare to jump into the deep ocean.’ In other words, don’t be afraid to take a risk—because there might be something valuable and important waiting for you.”

Such fearless action, she said, was what would be required of them to help companies, communities, and individuals in need.

 “We now have the capacity to create change in our environment,” she said. “We have the capacity to use our creativity and expertise to help those who need the most.” Despite the unique challenges of the current moment, she said, “This is the time for us to take on new challenges. This is the time to persevere no matter the hardships brought upon by the pandemic or world calamities. Be brave; believe in yourself; keep up the spirit of Northeastern University.”

Doremi finished her speech with a surprise, serenading her fellow graduates without accompaniment with a song made famous by Nina Simone.

“Birds flying high, you know what I feel,” Doremi sang, her years of training as a professional vocalist shining through. “It’s a new day. It’s a new dawn. It’s a new life for us. And I’m feeling good!”

When Dean Ludden returned to the mic to thank Doremi, she said, “I think we have a new dean in the making!”

‘Daring Trailblazers’

Tayaba Naz ’19, ’20, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology from the College of Professional Studies and a master’s degree in molecular biotechnology from the College of Science, greeted the graduates on behalf of alumni. Now a process strategy and development manager at Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories, Naz praised the graduates’ determination, resilience, and success, calling them “the next generation of daring trailblazers, visionary thought leaders, and distinctive pioneers.”

Tayaba Naz, CPS ’19, ’20

Naz, who won a scholarship at Northeastern through a National Science Foundation grant, congratulated the graduates on their achievement and urged them to explore the many opportunities available to them through the Northeastern network. Welcoming them into that community, Naz invited undergraduates to stand and turn their cap tassels from right to left, signifying their transition from student to graduate, and joined them in singing the Alma Mater.

‘Nothing Short of Extraordinary’

The final speaker of the evening, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs David Madigan delivered the Charge to Graduates, saluting their readiness to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world, the sacrifices they had made to achieve their goals, and the love of learning that had propelled them forward to this moment. “Be proud,” he said. “Know that what you have accomplished—in particular this past year—is nothing short of extraordinary. And, remember, Northeastern will always be there for you, wherever you are.”

To watch a recording of the ceremony and learn more about this year’s award winners, click here.