add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );Meet the commencement speakers at Boston-area colleges - BANG.

Meet the commencement speakers at Boston-area colleges

gavel3As the year winds down and the studying reaches its peak, a quarter of our fellow Eagles are preparing to say goodbye to the Heights after four years. Per tradition, Boston College will hold its commencement ceremony on May 20 at Alumni Stadium. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny will be speaking to the graduating class at BC, but what inspiring words await the other Boston-area college students?

Boston University: Wendy Kopp

Our crosstown rivals are bringing Wendy Kopp, the founder and board chair of Teach for America, an organization that recruits roughly 10,000 college graduates each year to serve at schools across the country.

“When school district officials literally laughed at the notion that the Me Generation — this was the label for my generation — would jump at the chance to teach in urban and rural communities, their concerns, too, went unheard. My very greatest asset was that I simply did not understand what was impossible.”

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University of Massachusetts - Boston: James Gustave Speth

James Gustave Speth will be addressing UMass Boston’s senior class. Speth is an accomplished environmental lawyer and has served as an adviser to both President Carter and President Clinton. Speth also co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resources Institute.

“In the end, despite the large volume of bad news, we can conclude with an affirmation. We can say with Wallace Stevens that 'after the final no there comes a yes.' Yes, we can save what is left. Yes, we can repair and make amends. We can reclaim nature and restore ourselves. There is a bridge at the end of the world.” 

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Tuft’s University: Dean Claude Steele

Tuft’s graduating class will be greeted by Stanford University School of Education Dean Claude Steele, a world-renowned psychologist. He has worked extensively on exploring how stereotypes influence group performance, among other topics.

“People experiencing stereotype threat are already trying hard. They're identified with their performance. They have motivation. It's the extra ghost slaying that is in their way.”

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Suffolk University: Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft, CEO of the Kraft Group, which owns the New England Patriots, New England Revolution and Gillette Stadium, will speak at Suffolk’s commencement. Besides owning the Patriots, Kraft is also active in various forms of philanthropy.

"People think they know Tom Brady. But he is better and tougher than people understand. He's amazing. Since I've been involved in the team, I don't think there is anyone who has played with more difficulty with pain and potential for injuries. He pushes it to the end. I've never seen anyone as physically tough as he is since we've owned the team. That's why he's such a great leader." 

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Wellesley College: Valerie Jarrett

The all-women’s college is bringing senior adviser to President Obama Valerie Jarrett this year. Jarrett is the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls and was chosen as the commencement speaker by the students themselves.

“My parents raised me to believe that if I worked hard and I focused on my goals, there were no limits to what I could accomplish. My responsibility as the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls is to help ensure that all women and girls have that same opportunity.”

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Brandeis University: Dr. Rick Hodes

Dr. Rick Hodes, who serves as the medical director of Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, will be speaking to Brandeis’ graduating class. Dr. Hodes’ work inspired the HBO film Making the Crooked Straight and has also spent decades working with children who have life-threatening scoliosis.

"I sort of see my role in the world as helping those that no one else is helping. I get discouraged all the time, but I just keep on going. … It's not easy."

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Hopefully these inspiring quotes, along with the thought of ending the school year on a positive note, will help you get through finals week!

All photos courtesy of


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School, major and year: Arts and Sciences, Political Science, and Class of 2016
Hometown: Hamilton, New Jersey
Favorite Beyonce lyric: "I don't think you're ready for this jelly"