With selfies and speeches, Emerson graduates class of 2014

by Rebecca Fiore / Beacon Staff • May 11, 2014

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Students await to receive their diplomas during Emerson's 134th commencement exercises.
Students await to receive their diplomas during Emerson's 134th commencement exercises.

Emerson awarded over 900 diplomas to the class of 2014 on May 11 at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. The main stage held faculty, staff, and the honorary speaker and Emerson alumnus Jay Leno.

Students sat together on the ground level, wearing their black caps and gowns. Many decorated their caps with photos, team numbers, inspirational quotes, flowers, and, of course, purple and gold glitter.

Including Leno, four people received honorary degrees from President M. Lee Pelton: Scott Simon, the host of Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR; Catherine D’Amato, CEO of the Greater Boston Food Bank; and Don Lemon of CNN.

“Don, I love you man,” said Pelton just before handing him a degree.

Lemon gave a short acceptance speech and encouraged all students to strive for success.

“One day you can be like me. You could be a black guy on national television who’s gay,” Lemon joked.

Leno delivered his speech in true comedic fashion.

“[Emerson College] is where you can have girls in your room, you can do drugs in your room, you can have sex in your room. The only thing you’re not allowed to have: a hot plate,” Leno said.

He gave graduates a list of 20 pieces of life advice, ranging from never being a "regular person" to finding the right romantic interest.

“Don’t have a relationship with a partner that doesn’t get it,” he said.

Srda Vasiljevic presented the senior class commencement address. He joked about Emerson using a different university's facilities, and explained what it means to be a millennial, or part of the “Me” generation.

“The world is our Boylston Street… and we are going to look damn good walking down it,” he said.

Graduates Monica de Pinto Ribeiro Hancke and Najah Muhammad received the Dean’s Award and President's Citation, respectively.

Valedictorian Alexandra Charest graced the stage leading her class for their diplomas.

Before Pelton delivered his goodbye speech, he took a quick selfie with Lemon.

“Mom, I’m sorry about the flowers. This selfie will have to do,” Pelton said.

In his closing address, Pelton discussed the importance of education to the class.

“Don’t squander the education you have been given,” he said. “I love you, and I shall miss you… well, some of you. Most of you.”