Northeastern conferred degrees upon more than 1,500 students at the College of Professional Studies’ graduation ceremony on Friday at Matthews Arena, where speakers urged the scholars to embrace diversity, effect positive change, and engage in lifelong learning.
Lindsay Levin, an international leader, author, and entrepreneur, delivered the graduation address. She imparted four pieces of advice to the graduates, calling on the future changemakers to notice their surroundings, listen to different viewpoints, identify with others, and seek stillness.
“To truly identify with the humanity of another person—even when we deeply disagree with them—is not easy,” said Levin of her directive to see ourselves in others. “It takes courage and humility to ask: ‘How is it true that what I see or judge or fear in another is a version of me?’”
Levin, the founder of Leaders’ Quest, a social enterprise that works with leaders to create a more equitable and sustainable world, has built a career out of seeking answers to life’s big questions in the networks of people, places, and organizations of which we are already members. Her 2013 book Invisible Giants: Changing the World One Step at a Time celebrates the myriad examples of leadership that can be found outside the CEO’s office, in communities and neighborhoods worldwide.
As a global leader, she’s discovered that our capacity to grow wise is directly related to our ability to cultivate stillness—her fourth and final directive. “In my case, it means learning to quiet my mind, even just for a few minutes, every day,” she explained. “To stop long enough to marvel at the beauty that’s all around us if we care to look.”
‘Our society needs people like you’
The College of Professional Studies offers 50 associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, providing career-focused educational programs designed to accommodate the complex lives of motivated learners. Many students choose to engage in one of more than 30 innovative online graduate programs, from human services and homeland security to leadership and nonprofit management.
In opening remarks, Mary Loeffelholz, dean of the College of Professional Studies and vice president of the Professional Advancement Network, praised the diversity of the graduating class. The graduates, she said, hail from more than 70 countries worldwide as well as all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
“You are the story of how higher education is changing, becoming increasingly global, more flexible, and more intertwined with the professions and with the new fields and enterprises that are just being formed now and that will generate the jobs of our future,” she told the graduates. “In this rapidly changing world, the people who thrive are those who have learned how to move outside their comfort zone,” she added. “You’ve already proven that you can shift gears and learn and grow.”
Loeffelholz later issued a charge to the graduates, urging them to be lifelong learners as they embark on the next phase of their lives. “Our society needs people like you—people who imagine possibility and respond to changing times,” she said. “Your education will help you weather these changes, but it also has prepared you to lead change and to transform your fields.”
In addition to the graduates, the ceremony honored two faculty members who received the college’s 2017 Excellence in Teaching Award: Jennifer Yufeng Quian, of the Doctor of Education program, and Dean He, of the Commerce and Economic Development Graduate program.