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‘Warm weather, open skies’; Northeastern graduates recount the journey to Commencement 2022

Northeastern University celebrates its graduate 2022 Commencement ceremony at Boston's Historic Fenway Park. Speakers included Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern, Leila Fadel, an NPR reporter and co-host of the public news organization’s banner show, Morning Edition, a distinguished group of influential figures, as well as student speakers. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

This is part of our coverage of Northeastern’s 2022 Commencement exercises. For more information, including a livestream, photos, and live coverage throughout the day, visit our dedicated Commencement page.

Shivam Verma, a 25-year-old Northeastern graduate, missed Commencement last year.

Not that he didn’t graduate. He did—in August 2021. But due to a miscommunication, he said he wasn’t able to attend his own ceremony. 

But this year, standing alone on the sidewalk outside Fenway Park early Friday morning as he waited for his friends, graduates and their families rushing past—Verma, an engineering management graduate, finally got to celebrate his achievements, thanks to a special accommodation granted by Northeastern’s commencement office.

Northeastern University celebrates its graduate 2022 commencement ceremony at Boston's Historic Fenway Park. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“It’s the first ceremony I’ve ever received in my educational career,” Verma, who was born in New Delhi, India, said.

Verma’s family, however, could not join him on the day, for Commencement 2022—a long-awaited celebration that took place on a temperate spring day in the iconic ballpark—and with the COVID-19 pandemic, for now, in the rear-view. 

“I’m probably going to be FaceTiming them throughout the whole ceremony,” Verma said before the ceremony, laughing. 

Waiting alongside Verma was the family of Meghna Balasubramanian, a 29-year-old Northeastern graduate of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. Balasubramanian will be entering the workforce with a master’s in business administration. 

“She’ll be working as a procurement analyst at Grubhub in Chicago starting this July,” Jshree Bala, Balasubramanian’s mother, beamed. 

Bala said her daughter worked at Foundation Medicine, a Cambridge-based biotechnology company, during her Northeastern co-op. The experience, Bala said, played a big role in Balasubramanian securing a post-graduation job. 

“She did that for a year—in fact, she’s still currently working for them,” Bala said. “We are so pleasantly surprised that it happened earlier than we expected. I mean, today she is graduating and she already has a job. We’re very proud of what she has done, and NEU has done an absolutely wonderful job.”

Rhea, Balasubramanian’s sister, said the pair went to high school together in Boston.  

“I think it’s fun to know that she’s graduating here at Fenway,” she said. “It’s such a staple, classic place in Massachusetts. And for it to be full-circle and now she’s off to Chicago. It’s just the perfect place, and perfect weather.”

Northeastern University celebrates its graduate 2022 commencement ceremony at Boston's Historic Fenway Park. Photos by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Shortly after 8 a.m., the gates to Fenway Park opened, ushering in the graduates and their families by the thousands for the 10 a.m. graduate commencement ceremony. 

Julia Holtzer, who is graduating with her master’s in marine biology, and Katherine Young, who is graduating with her master’s in bioengineering, were just two faces in the crowd. 

“This is my roommate and bestie,” Holtzer, who secured a job at Woodwell Climate Research Center in Falmouth, Cape Cod, said of Young. 

The pair also earned their undergraduate degrees at Northeastern, “which makes us Double Huskies?” they asked. 

Young said the job offers have been coming in, but that she plans to take a break from all the hard work.  

“I’m taking the summer off, which is incredibly exciting,” Young said. “I do have an offer but I don’t think I’m going to take it.”

Holtzer said she has been looking forward to this day. “It’s a unique experience, getting to be here,” she said.

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