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For one Northeastern family, Commencement brings together three generations

May 6, 2016 - BOSTON, MA. - Northeastern University celebrated its 114th Commencement on May 6, 2016. President Joseph E. Aoun led the undergraduate ceremony, which was held at TD Garden in Boston. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the Commencement address. Northeastern conferred honorary degrees upon a distinguished group of influential figures: Retired Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden Jr., the administrator of NASA; Susan Hockfield, former president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Thomas McCarthy, an award-winning director, screenwriter, and actor whose most recent film, Spotlight, won the 2016 Oscar for Best Picture. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Boston’s TD Garden was filled to the brim on Friday, as students, family, and friends gathered to celebrate the far-ranging accomplishments of the Class of 2016 at Northeastern’s 114th Commencement.

Nestled within the crowd were three men with a tie that binds even more tightly than their shared surname: On that day, Jared Pike, AMD’16, joined his father, Glenn Pike, AS’86, and his grandfather, Richard Pike E’61, MBA’66, as a proud Northeastern graduate.

Glenn had seen his father, Richard, walk as a Golden Graduate in 2011. But this time was different: the air in the arena was crisper, the gold of his dad’s robe brighter. A knee injury had left Richard walking with a cane, and he looked wiser, more seasoned, said Glenn, as he climbed the stairs to his seat.

“It hit me how cool it would have been to see him walking up the aisle back in 1966, in the old Garden, the same one that I graduated from 20 years after him,” said Glenn. “None of us could have imagined what was to happen this day, 50 years later.”

Tomorrow my father will go back to his retirement, I will go back to work at Northeastern, and Jared will travel back to New York to a job he got after doing a Northeastern co-op co-founded by a Northeastern alum. There is no stopping Northeastern’s influence in so many lives.
— Glenn Pike, AS’86

As senior digital media producer in Northeastern’s External Affairs office, Glenn was working Commencement. He wouldn’t have had it any other way. He wanted access to “the whole commencement experience,” he said, “from the nosebleed seats to the base of the speakers’ podium.” He videotaped his father walking in his second go-round as a Golden Grad. He saw Jared walk, too, and then some: He handed him his diploma, literally passing on the legacy.

“All three of us were under the same roof experiencing a celebration that my father had laid the foundation for,” said Glenn. “My son, who shares my birthday, excelled all the way through Northeastern and now, with a job from one of his co-ops, was a real-world example of how Northeastern can change your life. I felt tremendous gratitude for what the university had given us and for the opportunity we had to share that richness with one another.”

Co-op: A road to passion and career

All three men credit Northeastern’s co-op program with not only enabling them to find their passions but to turn them into careers. Indeed, each of them was hired as a full-time employee at one of their co-ops immediately after graduation.

Glenn Pike, who studied journalism, did two co-ops in what was then Northeastern’s Office of Public Information and is now External Affairs. He began as a darkroom technician and a photographer, and today, 30 years later, continues to “give back to a place I love,” he said. The university’s Instagram account, with its ingenious pictures and pun-laced captions, is one of his many creative responsibilities.

Richard Pike earned his undergraduate degree in industrial engineering and later received an MBA from Northeastern. His undergraduate co-ops were at the William Underwood Company, of Underwood Deviled Ham fame, at the time in Watertown, Massachusetts. In just six years he rose to the position of plant manager, thanks in part to the business degree he earned at night while working full time. Richard’s dedication to Northeastern put him on the other side of the lectern as well: For more than 25 years he taught industrial engineering courses at the university to undergraduate and graduate students.

One word, he said, summed up his feelings on Commencement day: PRIDE, and yes, in all caps. Glenn, he pointed out, was “on the clock,” rather than sitting in the stands, during the ceremony “intent on doing his part to make this day one of the most memorable in Jared’s and my life.”

His son’s accomplishments, he said, have benefited not just Glenn but himself. At the time of Glenn’s co-ops, photography was transitioning from being a film-based operation to a digital-based one, enabling Glenn to become computer literate early on. “Using that talent, he helped me enhance my teaching practice,” Richard said. Facile with numbers but not computers, Richard asked Glenn to design a website through which he could communicate regularly with his students in the College of Engineering. “I was one of the first faculty members in my department to employ such a system,” he said. “Jared will likely help his father similarly, if he hasn’t already, given what he’s gained from his co-op experiences.”

Home away from home

For Jared Pike, who majored in graphic design, Northeastern has felt like home for years. “The university was part of the family as I was growing up,” he said. He visited his father’s office on campus when he was small. He worked part-time alongside Glenn doing data entry and posting Instagram photos before he matriculated here, in January 2010. And his work-study was in External Affairs, where he helped graphic designers with production.

Today he, too, has a full-time job at one of his co-ops: Ronik Design, in New York City, where he does interactive design work, concentrating on website apps and branding designs for business clients. The company itself carries something of a Northeastern brand: the co-founder, three former co-ops who are now full-time hires, and co-op students are all Huskies.

Participation in two student groups—the Council for University Programs, which runs the large events on campus, and Scout, Northeastern’s student-led design studio—cemented the commitment to graphic design that Jared’s co-ops had fostered.

Might there be a fourth-generation Pike Husky in the future? “I don’t know,” said Jared, laughing. “I hope so.”

Glenn, smack in the middle of the Pike legacy, looks back to his father and forward to his son with wonder. “Fifty years ago, my father never could have imagined this day,” he said, thrilled that he was able to capture the memories in iPhone shots due to his behind-the-scenes access in the Garden.

“Tomorrow my father will go back to his retirement, I will go back to work at Northeastern, and Jared will travel back to New York to a job he got after doing a Northeastern co-op co-founded by a Northeastern alum,” said Glenn. “There is no stopping Northeastern’s influence in so many lives. As Secretary of State John Kerry said in his Commencement address, ‘We are Northeastern Strong. Husky Strong.’”

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