Speaker celebrates ‘un-Instagrammable selves’ as 4,000 graduate


Yunkyo Kim

At the 117th commencement in Northeastern's history, 4,000 students received diplomas.

Yunkyo Kim, campus editor

The Northeastern University class of 2019 graduated Friday in a commencement ceremony attended by more than 20,000.

It was the 117th commencement ceremony in university history, and over 4,000 students received diplomas at TD Garden. Commencement Speaker Tara Westover, known for her New York Times-bestselling memoir “Educated,” advised students to cherish the “un-Instagrammable,” unpublicized aspects of their lives.

“March up here and get your degree, and give the camera your absolute best smile,” Westover said. “But tonight, as you upload that photo, take a moment to check in with your un-Instagrammable self and thank them for getting you this far, and for taking you through the rest of the way.”

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New York Times-bestselling memoirist Tara Westover advised students to cherish the “un-Instagrammable” aspects of their lives.

In his welcome remarks, President Joseph E. Aoun encouraged students to value their “unique human attributes” and emphasized the importance of “reinvention” in increasingly machine-oriented industries.

“The world will never stop reinventing technology, so we can never stop reinventing ourselves,” Aoun said. “Never forget that our true power is in our human connection,”

Aoun also encouraged students to continue their learning after graduation.

“You are well prepared for the next steps in your journey, wherever it may lead, but your learning does not end with this ceremony,” Aoun said. “Commencement, after all, is about beginnings. So where are you heading?”

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs James Bean, Student Speaker Rebecca Leeper and Vice Chair of the Young Alumni Advisory Board Binja Basimike spoke and the a cappella group Nor’easters performed musical segments during the ceremony.

“I am profoundly humbled to be here, and just so excited for all of us,” Leeper said in her speech.

Leeper, a graduating computer engineering major and vice president of EMBARK — Northeastern’s undergraduate engineering research journal — said her “most pivotal moment at Northeastern” was meeting with the United Nations director-general in Geneva, who told Leeper and other visiting students “[they] could change the state of the world.”

“In that moment, I decided I would, but in that moment I also knew that the only way I could was with a network of people from all over the world with cross-disciplinary backgrounds, unafraid and boldly advocating and collaborating for change,” Leeper said. “This is Northeastern. This is innovation, experiential learning, global impact and a community built on values of inclusivity.”

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Students expressed excitement for their graduation and post-graduation prospects.

Other graduating students expressed excitement for their graduation and post-graduation prospects.

“Personally, I’m the first college graduate in my family, so it feels like wicked important and I am really honored to be able to do this and represent my family,” said Fran Grant, a graduating psychology major.

After graduation, Grant said, they will move to California with their fiance and “just take it easy.”

Adrianna Graziano, a graduating biology major, said she will be employed at a former co-op after graduation. “It’s been a long time coming, so it’s really exciting,” Graziano said.

Tito Mbathi, a graduating international business major, said he looked forward to concluding his studies at Northeastern and working in Berlin.

“I’m done! That’s how I feel. Yeah, it feels good,” Mbathi said. “Go Huskies!”