Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

‘Our voice echoes on campuses across the world’: 2024 Senior Commencement Speaker Joe Nalieth’s speech

Editor’s Note: This speech has been edited by the Beacon for grammar and AP style. It has also been advised and edited by Clarisa Carrillo, Deion Hawkins, and Sahil Nisha


Happy Mother’s Day to all the gorgeous moms and aunties out there. 

Distinguished guests, loved ones, cherished faculty who have seen us at our best, and our worst, can we PLEASE make some noise for the Emerson College graduating Class of 2024?! Thank you. We needed that. Seriously, we haven’t caught a break in these last four years. All Emersonians know what it means to be “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once.”

Can I ask y’all to take a breath with me? Like a really deep, primal sigh. Like a Theatre & Performance BFA breath, really engage that diaphragm. May we breathe in the collective weight of our experience these last four years: the communities we’ve built, the memories we’ve made, and the beautiful projects we’ve brought to life. And we breathe out all of the sleepless nights, the self-doubt, and the stress and anxiety that comes with being a creative in these times. All the hours we put in, all the sacrifices we made, for what? For the love of what we do. For the undeniable proof that we are, indeed, a force to be reckoned with. And when you throw these cool hats in on top, I think that makes it all worth it.

I used to think that the scariest thing in life was the unexpected, but the most valuable lesson I learned at Emerson is that the chaos is constant. Between a literal plague trapping us in those little zoom squares and entering the job market in a recession, this feels more like an episode of Survivor than an episode of Succession.

Yet, here we are, stronger, more adaptable, with a portfolio of experiences richer than we ever could have imagined. The challenges that we faced didn’t just prepare us for the chaos of the creative world; they also showed us the unparalleled strength we can find in the communities we build, and the extraordinary art we can create within them. When we uplift and support one another, we are truly unstoppable.

Speaking of community, welcome to the Emerson Mafia! The most powerful secret society in Hollywood. I think this is our initiation ceremony. We’re off the hook for tuition bills, but they’ll never stop shaking us down for donations. All jokes aside, we’re stepping into one of the most formidable networks in the arts and communications world. The Mafia is our secret weapon now, we can beat the LinkedIn algorithm. We’re in this together, ready to support each other with opportunities, connections, and the kind of camaraderie that only Emersonians can provide. 

When the commercial industry fails to tell the stories that need to be told, we are capable of banding together to make the impossible possible. Think of all the magic we pulled off with no budget—just a student org, a vision, and a lot of caffeine.

The media we create today shapes the reality we live tomorrow. We’re primed to take over creative industries and shape them after the beautiful community we’ve nurtured here at Emerson.

We, the students, are champions of radical inclusivity—of a boundless, unifying love that transcends borders. Our spirit cannot be contained between the steep walls of the alley; our message cannot be washed away with the chalk; our voice echoes on campuses across the world, especially those campuses which have been reduced to rubble.

So, to the Class of 2024, as we embark on this journey, let us not forget: we are creators, innovators, and revolutionaries. Along with our passion, insanity, and commitment to the grind, we share a collective understanding of what it means to roll with the punches. The professors here are good, but they can’t teach you that. We learned how to swim in a riptide, and we’re stronger for it. Together, we will build an industry that champions every voice, every story, every dream. The future is ours for the making.

So, my fellow graduates, let’s not just aim for success; let’s redefine it. Because with our talent, our resilience, and our unmatched ability to quote obscure arthouse films, there’s nothing we can’t achieve. Here’s to making the world our stage, and occasionally remembering our lines.

Congratulations, Emersonians. Let’s turn the page and start writing our next great adventure.

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