Class of 2015 graduates with laughter and words of wisdom

by Claire Nobles / Beacon Staff • May 18, 2015

Graduates celebrate after the ceremony.
Courtesy of Jake Schwartz
Graduates celebrate after the ceremony.
Courtesy of Jake Schwartz

Over 900 students from the class of 2015 graduated from Emerson College on May 18 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The ceremony featured Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, who delivered the commencement address and received an honorary degree.

President M. Lee Pelton also awarded three other honorary doctorates to Paralympic medalist and physician Cheri Blauwet, poet laureate Natasha Trethewey, and Anne Hawley, director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

“My soon-to-be fellow graduates at Emerson,” Roberts joked, “You don’t have to call me Dr. Roberts, you can call me Robin.”

Roberts, who gave her address unscripted, drew upon her own experiences from right after she graduated college from Southeastern Louisiana University to give advice to the students. Though Roberts originally wanted to devote her career to sports broadcasting, other opportunities arose, she said.

“You have to be willing to venture outside your comfort zone,” Roberts said. “Don’t get in the habit of saying no.”

The senior class commencement address was given by Zach Ehrlich, a visual and media arts major.

“As we face the future in our billowing muumuus of educational triumph, it is self-evident how much we care,” Ehrlich said.

Ehrlich spoke about how he sought a school that would care about things as much as he did during his college application process. He said Emerson fit that requirement.

“We don’t always know exactly how to treat each other or ourselves, but we will never stop aspiring, and we will never stop empathizing, and we will not go to bed any earlier,” Ehrlich said to a cheering crowd.

Dean of Students Ronald Ludman awarded marketing communication major Julianna Buck with the Dean’s Award for her work within the Emerson community, which included chairing the 2014-2015 Orientation Core Staff. Performing arts major Nyla Wissa was awarded the President’s Citation by Pelton.

“[Wissa] is the foundation of Flawless Brown,” Pelton said. Flawless Brown, a theatre troupe for women of color, was created by Wissa in Feb. 2013.

Pelton closed out the ceremony with his goodbye address, where he mirrored the class of 2015’s career at Emerson with his own—he joined the college in July 2011, right before many of the day’s graduates arrived.

“The world awaits your arrival with open and anxious arms,” Pelton said. “It cares not that you will be rich or famous, but that you will live a good life. That you will add rather than subtract value from human society.”