President Joseph Aoun addresses the class of 2022

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The word “start” technically means the beginning. But Joseph Aoun, president of Northeastern University, told the graduating students: “Your journey has already begun.”

As Aoun addressed the thousands of class of 2022 graduates and their guests gathered at Fenway Park on Friday for the university’s graduation exercises, he spoke of common sayings often exchanged at such a moment.

At graduation ceremonies around the world, speakers who dress as luxuriously as mine tell the graduates: ‘Life cannot be written. You will reinvent yourself many times. “You will learn more from failure than from success,” Aoun said. “These are wise words. But for you, it is old news.”

Instead, as he gazed at the ranks of alumni filling the baseball field and crowds in the stands, Aoun shared tales of how Northeastern University alumni actually embody these proverbs through what he called, “the northeastern advantage. Deliberate engagement with the world. Listening. Learning.” And he does.”

Photo by Matthew Modono/Northeastern University

Aoun said that the value of the experience is not just about learning what you like or want. It’s also about learning who you are no You want. Closing one door, he said, can lead to “a door you didn’t know existed.”

“How many of you have reinvented learning in your classroom because you have come back from collaborating with new perspectives?” Aoun asked the graduates and fired cheers and shouts. “The experience transformed your knowledge into true mastery and understanding – even wisdom. Many of you have applied these new perspectives in projects and social entrepreneurship. So you will not only reinvent yourselves; you will reinvent the world around you.”

Facing failure is an essential part of achieving success, Aoun said, addressing the idea of ​​a fresh start. He said that students at Khoury College of Computer Science especially learned the power of adapting to unrecorded situations: required To take a theatrical course in improvisation.

Northeastern University is celebrating its 2022 graduation ceremony at Boston's Historic Fenway Park.  Speakers included Joseph Aoun, President of Northeastern University, Laila Fadel, NPR reporter, co-host of Public News Agency's Morning Edition banner program, a distinguished group of influencers, as well as student speakers.  Photo by Matthew Modono/Northeastern University

“Some of you were hesitant at first. But you tried it,” Aoun said. “She shared with me that this experience helped you think on your own feet. Listen deeply. Real-time interaction. Understand your audience.”

He said that the improvisation technique that is taught particularly emphasizes failure as success. It’s called “clowning”. And when the clown falls or fails at something, it elicits laughter from the audience. This is a success.

Immediately before Aoun’s speech, he showed the audience his own experience in clowning. In a video clip projected onto a football field jumbotron, the president is seen wearing VR goggles and walking around the campus missing several mishaps – experiencing Husky Bowes instead. In slapstick fashion, Paws fall multiple times, from falling down stairs to splashing water in a koi pond on campus.

“Life is largely improvised, a more realistic show than a script production. Your dramatic arc will be shaped by setbacks as well as successes. Despite your careful planning, you sometimes fall clownically,” Aoun told the graduates. In the northeast I prepared you to stand again. Move forward. adaptation.”

The university president said the class of 2022 has extensive experience in adaptation. “Learning, creating and working in more than 140 countries,” he said. “You adapted to countless new workplaces, cultures, and environments. When the pandemic halted your experience in the Northeast, you adapted.”

In addition to facing the pandemic, the graduates faced many challenges, Aoun acknowledged, from “a significant racial arithmetic” to a “brutal war taking place in real time.”

Graduate students tossing their hats in the air.

“There’s another sentence you’ll hear at graduation parties: ‘We depend on your generation to solve the world’s problems.’ That line has never seemed so fair to me,” he said. “But it rings more than ever. … What gives me hope, during these challenges, is you.”

Aoun stopped his speech and asked the graduates to raise flags that represent different places around the world that represent something special for them. As cheers erupted from the crowd, flags fluttered like birds over the graduates, flashing brightly on their black robes and hats.

“This is one of my favorite moments at the graduation party,” he said. “A sea of ​​colours, movement and our common humanity.”

It was a moment that sums up your collective experience at Northeastern University, Aoun said.

“It also represents the collective impact you already had on the world,” he continued. “Your global experiences have taken you far beyond the clichés of graduation speeches. These experiences will make a huge difference as you lead organizations, guide new generations, and create work with vision and impact. Your entrepreneurship will transform society. Your inventions will change the course of tomorrow.”

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