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Your dean sends you on your way with a Commencement playlist. The rest is still unwritten.

“It’s a celebration to last throughout the years!” So exclaimed Kool & The Gang in their classic hit, “Celebration.” And, it turns out, College of Professional Studies Dean Mary Loeffelholz, shares the sentiment. For this special Commencement Tunesday, Loeffelholz and the rest of the deans of Northeastern’s colleges, schools, and libraries hand-selected a few songs that speak to the grit it takes to graduate, the celebration of accomplishments, and the reflection that Commencement brings.

As you’re getting pumped up to cross the stage, listen to the Dean’s (Play)list below, and keep reading for some sage advice from your deans.

Dan Cohen

Dean of Libraries

Though your formal undergraduate career at Northeastern may be coming to a close, it’s important to “maintain your ability to be amazed by the world around you,” Cohen said, advice inspired by the song (Keep Feeling) Fascination, by The Human League. And, as the Brand New Heavies intone in Dream On Dreamer, “never stop believing in yourself and your dreams,” he added. In the process, though, don’t forget to celebrate everything you’ve accomplished thus far. Or, follow Prince’s lead in the song 1999. “It’s officially the best party song until 2999, and you deserve it,” Cohen said.

Ken Henderson

Dean of the College of Science

“Science is the search for truth,” Henderson said, echoing They Might Be Giants in their song, Science is Real. “As graduates in science, you now have both the ability and the obligation to share with others the beauty of the scientific method in creating new knowledge based in facts,” Henderson said. (Perhaps this means sharing the History of Everything, as The Barenaked Ladies did, or discovering an addition to the Periodic Table of Elements for Tom Lehrer’s song, The Elements.) “As a scientist and a person, remain curious,” Henderson said, “and your life will be filled with continual, wonderful surprises.”

Carla Brodley

Dean of the College of Computer and Information Science

Brodley encouraged students to revel in the celebration, as evidenced by her brace of Beatles tunes song. Here Comes the Sun venerates the eternality of optimism, and In My Life celebrates the lasting meaning of friendship. A more recent cut, I’m On Top of the World, by Imagine Dragons, is the kind of feel-good jam that you turn up loud, then dance.

Susan Parish

Dean of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences

A trio of songs by Leann Womack, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Bruce Springsteen urges listeners to embrace opportunities. I Hope You Dance, Why Walk When You Can Fly, and Dream Baby Dream also advise not to be deterred by challenges. “Get in the habit of learning something new, and stretching beyond your comfort zone, as often as you can,” Parish said. Just as important? As The Alternate Routes sing in Nothing More, “Be kind,” Parish said. “Have courage to do the right thing, in every situation, every time, without compromise. There is no substitute for a moral compass and letting it guide you.”

Raj Echambadi

Dunton Family Dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business

In considering his message to graduates, Echambadi turned to Baz Luhrmann. Or more specifically, Luhrmann’s song, Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen. Find confidence and inspiration as you embark on new adventures, Echambadi advised. And before he sends his students on their way (as Rusted Root entreated in Send Me On My Way) Echambadi said, “I hope you all will remember Northeastern fondly, and that you believe, as I do, that you have been well prepared to solve the grand challenges of our times. Good luck!”

Uta Poiger

Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities

Poiger’s song selections highlight an internal tension with which we all must wrestle: How do we protect and foster our individuality while connecting with others in a meaningful way? Arcade Fire addresses this in Sprawl II; St. Vincent laments the loss of individuality in Los Ageless; and John Coltrane champions the power of love in A Love Supreme. Then, Gloria Gaynor, resilient as she is, expresses with certainty: I Will Survive. So what’s the secret here? How can we celebrate uniqueness and togetherness at once? “Find ways to connect with people to whom you are not immediately drawn,” Poiger said simply.

Elizabeth Hudson

Dean of the College of Arts, Media and Design

Hudson carefully selected songs that invoke the ceremony of graduation and emphasize the importance of remaining resilient in the face of adversity. Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence encourages listeners to speak up when they have something to say, and The Beatles’ Let It Be advises them to rest knowing that when even that voice feels impossible, “there will be an answer.” Hudson also recommended the Academic Festival Overture by Johannes Brahms, a classic graduation song in New Zealand, where Hudson lived for many years.

Jeremy Paul

Dean of the School of Law

Paul, too, advised students to connect, to stay informed, to stay alert and hungry for knowledge. His song selections, including What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding, by Nick Lowe; and Stand, by Sly and the Family Stone, encourage the same sort of human compassion Poiger urged. And, like Parish, he instructed students to continue being curious. “Read a newspaper every day,” he said. “When you are reading (about almost anything) you are advancing your career and nourishing your soul, even if you don’t know how or why in the moment.”

Mary Loeffelholz

Dean of the College of Professional Studies

Loeffelholz explained: “I graduated from Stanford in 1981, and our school’s celebration song was All Right Now, by Free—an evergreen commencement favorite! The other commencement hit in 1981 was Celebration by Kool & The Gang. In fact, the song has great words for graduates: Yes, this is your celebration today, and it’s also a celebration to last throughout the years. Graduates—Northeastern will always be here for you.

Nadine Aubry

Dean of the College of Engineering

As 10,000 Maniacs express in These Are Days, “these are days you’ll remember.” Aubry added, “One part of your incredible journey has ended, and we wish you joy and success as you start the next adventure.” That next adventure may be Unwritten, as Natasha Bedingfield sang, but perseverance and creativity are forces to be reckoned with. Look no further than Idina Menzel’s rendition of Defying Gravity for inspiration. Or take Katy Perry’s advice—go forth and be a Firework. “You always have a home at Northeastern,” Aubry said, “and we look forward to hearing about all of your accomplishments.”

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