Words of optimism and encouragement punctuated Temple’s 125th Commencement, as more than 8,600 graduates were conferred degrees during a morning ceremony at the Liacouras Center.
Students assembled at the building's receiving entrance before processing into the arena to take their seats at the center of family and friends. Many said they were feeling pre-ceremony jitters, but were eager to begin the next phase of their lives.
“I feel excited and nervous like everybody else,” said Zachary L. Harris, who graduated from the Fox School of Business with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. “But at the end of the day, I’m moving on to bigger and better things.”
School of Communications and Theater graduate LaToya Stroman echoed that sentiment in her remarks as student speaker. Stroman, who overcame financial hardships, a tough neighborhood and a devastating house fire to reach the day’s milestone, reminded her peers that “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
“Nothing will stop us,” she said. “Because of all that we have been through we are here today. Because Temple University believed in us we are graduating today. We have finished what we started.”
In her remarks, Temple President Ann Weaver Hart encouraged graduates to face the future with optimism and determination in spite of those who warn of its uncertainty.
“Optimism and audacity are in short supply in our broader society,” said Hart. “We need you to burst through these doors today and proclaim to the naysayers and pessimists that while the future is uncertain, it is not beyond hope.”
Legendary music promoter Larry Magid, a Philadelphia native and alumnus who received an honorary doctoral degree at the ceremony, has proven the value of watering dreams with optimism in his years since attending Temple. As co-founder of Electric Factory Concerts, Magid has produced and promoted more than 16,000 performances, including 1985’s Live Aid and 2005’s Live 8, two of the biggest music events in history.
“For me, life began at Temple,” said Magid. “I came here with little more than hopes and dreams. While here, I started a little business booking bands into fraternity parties... (It) would eventually become one of the biggest and most influential music industry companies.”
Temple alumnus and trustee William H. Cosby, Jr., offered his characteristic no-nonsense advice for graduates in tongue-in-cheek remarks that have become a highly anticipated Temple tradition.
“Get up and do what you’re supposed to do,” quipped Cosby. “This is it. This is all we ever asked. We know you’re scared. We want you to think and use reason. Take your education, think back to the things you should take with you. Congratulations to you. You’ve got plenty of time but don’t dream through it. Wake up."
The university conferred 5,903 bachelor's degrees, 1,897 graduate degrees and 868 first professional degrees at the main ceremony and at others held by individual schools and colleges throughout the week. Graduates ranged in age from 19 to 67.
At the conclusion of Thursday’s event, President Hart declared a recess until the ceremony resumes on June 3 at Temple’s Japan Campus, in Tokyo.