Three hours, seven minutes, and two seconds after it began, the 100th commencement ceremony of Suffolk University concluded. I graduated with my peers from the Master in Public Administration program, joining over 1,500 graduates from Suffolk Law School, the College of Arts of Sciences, and the rest of the Sawyer Business School (where my program was based).
Like recent commencement ceremonies by Suffolk University and Northeastern University, we sat on the ground floor of the TD Banknorth Garden, home of the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. My family and a friend, along with hundreds of other families and friends, sat in the loge and balcony sections surrounding us. It was an awe-inspiring venue.
Our keynote speaker was NBA champ and civil rights advocate (and first African American Celtic and first African American NBA coach) Bill Russell, who spoke off-the-cuff and charged us to invest back into the community and to not be afraid.
About a half hour before I received my actual diploma, sealed within a cardboard container envelope, I handed a reader my name placard and I heard my name echoed through the arena as I walked across the dais to receive a paper scroll, shake the dean’s hand, and metaphorically cross the bridge from a student to a graduate. Yay!