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601 master’s degrees awarded at Northeastern University’s convocation in Toronto

The Toronto event, an international celebration of lifelong learning, was one of several being held across the university’s global network of 13 campuses.

Inside the venue at Northeastern's 2024 Toronto convocation.
Northeastern University’s Toronto convocation was one of several being held across the university’s global network of 13 campuses. Photo by Tobias Wang for Northeastern University

This is part of our coverage of Northeastern University’s 2024 commencement.

Adaire Stapleton, a graduate of Northeastern University in Toronto, recalled the “mix of emotions” he felt as he was gearing up to leave India to study in Canada. 

“I was excited to visit this beautiful country, experience the fall colors, travel on my dream flight, the Airbus A380, and most importantly, study at Northeastern, a reputed university,” said Stapleton, delivering the student address at Thursday’s convocation ceremony.

“But I was also scared to pack my life into a few suitcases, leaving behind my family, my friends, my home and everything that was so familiar to me, much like most of you,” he said.

Stapelton, who earned a master’s degree in analytics, was just one of 601 graduates from the Toronto campus who make up the 2024 class.

The Toronto convocation, an international celebration of lifelong learning, was one of several being held across the university’s global network of 13 campuses.

This year’s graduates completed degrees linked to seven programs from across three different university colleges. 

Aliza Lakhani, regional dean and CEO for the Toronto campus, kicked off the ceremony with enthusiastic congratulations, before asking the graduates to hoist their flags of origin in what has become a fixture of Northeastern ceremonies.   

“In recognition of that diversity, we invited you to carry flags that represent lands that are important to you,” Lakhani said. “A place you call home. A place where you learned about yourself and others. A place that you love. These flags hold special meaning for each of you and I would like you to now raise your flags and wave them.”

Olutoyin Oyelade, the founding CEO of the Toronto-based investment advisory firm InVcap, delivered the keynote. Getting personal with the graduates, Oyelade talked about how she left a career in investment banking in 2011 to start a nonprofit — one that works to promote diversity in corporate governance — and pursue a doctoral degree.

The time was shot through with uncertainty, she said. 

“It was quite the year — job hunting, starting Casa and my doctoral, no regular pay, and too many unknowns,” Oyelade said. “But I kept acting on my goals, because I sensed that there was a lot to discover, and I was not going to allow the chaos in the global markets to define what I could do.”

“Fast-forward to 2023,” she said. “Although unsure, I stepped out, I struggled with marketing, with capital, but 13 years last month, CASA Foundation continues to address perennial economic and political challenges, fosters partnerships, provides seed capital and facilitates trade discussions across the globe with CEOs and government leaders.” 

Oyelade was presented with a citation — signed by Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun — by Lakhani and Mary Ludden, senior vice president of global network and strategic initiatives.

Oyelade dispensed several tidbits of advice: chiefly, the importance of preparation (“The question to ask yourself is: what have you been preparing for?”); of never giving up (“as you hit the job or business market”); of being a problem solver; of having faith (“​​faith in yourself; faith in your skills and competencies; faith that the system will work in your favor”); and of building relationships and finding mentors.  

“Class of 2024, you will most likely earn your greatest achievements through what you do in your fields of endeavor, with peers, and the impact and influence you make on people,” Oyelade said. 

“However, your most important and greatest achievement is your community and family,” she continued. “This is where you run to, your comfort zone, your hiding place from the storms of life. Make no mistake, these storms will come, so cultivate healthy relationships with your families, friends and community. Support them and have their back.”