U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry will deliver Northeastern University’s Commencement address to this year’s graduating seniors on May 6, 2016, at TD Garden in Boston.
Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun unveiled the news Monday night on Twitter.
Kerry, who is the United States’ top diplomat, will speak to a global gathering of 25,000 graduates, family members, university leaders, and friends from around the world during Northeastern’s 114th Commencement exercises.
“John Kerry and Northeastern share a common bond: We are deeply rooted in Massachusetts yet fully engaged with the global community,” said Aoun. “Through a lifelong commitment to public service, Secretary Kerry has distinguished himself as one of the truly consequential statesmen of his generation. His impact on the world serves as a powerful example for our graduates.”
For five decades, Kerry has led a distinguished career in public service. He was sworn in as the 68th Secretary of State on Feb. 1, 2013, following nearly 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. Kerry was the first sitting Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair to become Secretary of State in more than a century.
Education today is a global enterprise, and we’re living in a time when jobs and opportunities take us all over the world”
—Secretary of State John Kerry
There have been a number of pivotal foreign policy milestones for the U.S. throughout Kerry’s tenure. During the past year alone, the U.S. re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba, announced a nuclear deal with Iran, helped to stem the tide of the Ebola outbreak, established the historic free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and brokered the COP21 Climate Change Agreement.
Kerry is President Barack Obama’s chief foreign affairs advisor, and when he delivers his Commencement address at Northeastern, he’ll be speaking to a diverse audience drawn from around the world. Today, nearly 20 percent of the university’s undergraduate student body comes from outside the United States. Northeastern is also the worldwide leader in experiential learning, with students learning and working in 131 countries on all seven continents.
“I am grateful that President Aoun has invited me to address the graduating class at Northeastern University, which is no longer confined to Huntington Avenue but operating a global campus,” said Kerry. “Education today is a global enterprise, and we’re living in a time when jobs and opportunities take us all over the world. I look forward to returning to Massachusetts—and my hometown—to address the senior class and other graduates on this important and very happy occasion.”
This year marks a welcome return to Northeastern’s Commencement exercises for the Secretary, who delivered the address to the university’s graduate students in 2000.
Kerry’s public service began in 1966, when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He went on to serve two tours of duty in Vietnam, during which he earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat “V” (valor), and three Purple Hearts.
After earning his law degree in 1976, Kerry went to work as a prosecutor in the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office in Massachusetts. He was elected lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1982, and two years later, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he represented the Commonwealth for nearly three decades.
In 2009, Kerry became chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, and in 2010 he was instrumental in the ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, a vital nuclear arms reduction agreement with Russia. As chair of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, he worked to learn the truth about American soldiers missing in Vietnam and to normalize relations with that country. Kerry also held senior positions on the Finance, Commerce, and Small Business committees, as well as served as a member of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Secretary Kerry has distinguished himself as one of the truly consequential statesmen of his generation”
—Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun
Kerry was born on Dec. 11, 1943, at Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. He graduated from Yale University in 1966 and received his law degree from Boston College Law School in 1976.
Kerry was the Democratic Party’s nominee for president of the United States in 2004.
Northeastern’s past Commencement speakers include an illustrious group of leaders and public figures, including John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev, Maya Angelou, Kenneth Chenault, Colin Powell, and Janet Napolitano.
Next month, Northeastern will announce the Commencement speaker for the afternoon graduate ceremony at Matthews Arena in Boston.