Caps were flying Friday morning at the Commencement ceremony for graduate students at Fenway Park

Northeastern Graduate Commencement: Leila Fadel Tells Class of 2022 to ‘Write the Rest of Your Story’

Embrace your fears, offered award-winning journalist Leila Fadel, the featured speaker at Northeastern University’s Commencement ceremony for graduate students on Friday morning at Fenway Park in Boston.

“Why am I talking about fear on such a hopeful day?” asked Fadel, a Northeastern School of Journalism graduate and a host of Morning Edition, the flagship morning show for National Public Radio. “In moments of fear, I found urgency and a clear understanding of why I had chosen to give a platform to those who needed it most. Fear can be debilitating, but it can also be our greatest motivator for good in this world even when it feels too hard, too big, too unsolvable.”

The undergraduate ceremony was slated for Friday evening at the 110-year-old ballpark, which for this splendid day was wreathed with emblems of Northeastern perched along the majestic outfield walls, covering home plate and the pitcher’s mound, and glowing from the electric signs that ringed the immaculate green field.

Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern, asked the graduates for three rounds of applause: for the family members, partners, and friends who helped them reach this moment; for the faculty and staff who supported them; and for themselves, for this achievement they had earned.

He dispensed with the lessons that are so often trotted out at Commencement ceremonies: Life cannot be scripted … You will reinvent yourself many times … You will learn more from failure than success.

“These are wise words,” Aoun told the graduates. “But for you, they are old news.” The “Northeastern advantage” enabled them to take on all challenges, he said.

The themes of perseverance from Aoun and Fadel were bookended by a message of merited hope—earned during the COVID-19 pandemic—from student speaker Aniyah Smith, who graduated with a master of business administration degree with concentrations in marketing and analytics.

“The last two years were hard,” Smith said. “I want to remind you that while intelligence, ambition, and perseverance have brought you to this moment, hope is one of the most important things we have.”

It was a morning of inspiring music, of colorful flags waved by students representing dozens of nations, of lifelong dreams realized and reimagined on behalf of new ambitions.


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Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University.

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