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Graduates Share Reflections on Journey at Hooding Ceremony

Graduations are an important milestone in a person’s education, and before walking across the stage at Emerson College’s Graduation Hooding Ceremonies, students reflected on their Emerson experiences.

“I feel very happy, it is great to take time to appreciate everything that has happened over the last two years to come together and celebrate with people that I have met along the way,” said Kelly Brabec, MA ’24, a graduate of the Publishing and Writing program. 

School of the Arts Photo Gallery

  • A person receives their hood
  • A grad smiles while hugging someone
  • A person smiles after graduating
  • Two grads pose for a photo
  • A grad's mortar board
  • A person holds up his diploma
  • A grad with their parent
  • A grad with a relative

Brabec was one of many soon to be alumni enjoying the ceremonies for the School of the Arts and School of Communication master’s recipients, held at Boston’s Shubert Theater on Saturday, May 11.

Brabec said she plans to continue her role as a technical writer at Wells Fargo, while also considering opportunities in educational or digital publishing down the line. 

“I am super excited, I feel like we all worked really hard for this, I am the first in my family to get a master’s degree so that is very exciting and I am super excited for the future,” said Kathleen Berry-Li, MA ’24. 

Berry-Li is aiming to pursue a career in marketing within the publishing industry.

Sydnee Ellison, MA ’24, said the reality of graduating hadn’t set in just yet. “I am excited, but everyone keeps asking me how I feel and I feel like it hasn’t hit me yet, but I feel like once I walk across it will hit me that I am officially done,” Ellison shared. 

Ellison and Anthony Duval, MA ’24, reminisced fondly of their class with Writing, Literature and Publishing Associate Professor  John Rodzvilla. 

“He is amazing. He gives you the freedom to grow as a student and as a person,” said Duval. 

Ellison will begin her new job as a marketing publicity and design intern at the publishing company Tin House, while Duval will embark on his new position as a content marketing specialist at the Berkshire Eagle.

Students cherished the friendships they made along the way, crediting Emerson for having the ability to bring people together.

Annie Butjus. Lucas Poyser, and Keira Beatty smile for a photo
Left to right: Annie Butjus, MA ’24; Lucas Poyser, MA ’24; and Keira Beatty, MA ’24. (Photo by Paul Raglow-DeFranco, MA ’25)

“We met in the Communication Studies program, and I never thought that I would make such good friends in a classroom setting, but I did, and now we talk outside of the classroom, we connect, we hang out, it has been essential to my success here at Emerson to have other people in my corner,” said Political Communications program graduate Keira Beatty, MA ’24.

“I have made the most wonderful friends and I feel so fortunate,” said Annie Butjus, MA ’24.  “I think Emerson has a great ability to bring people together and encourage some beautiful relationships so shout out to Emerson for making this all happen.”

Speakers Offer Encouragement

Kim McLarin speaks from a lectern
Writing, Literature and Publishing Professor & Interim Dean of Graduate & Professional Studies Kim McLarin. (Photo by Sami Ahmad ’20)

Kim McLarin, Writing, Literature and Publishing Professor & Interim Dean of Graduate & Professional Studies, delivered the commencement speeches at both hooding ceremonies, focused on the theme of self-righteousness, acknowledging its prevalence and her struggle with it.

“Self-righteousness is an equal opportunity tendency,” said McLarin. “I’m struggling with it because, you see, I do believe in righteousness. I believe in civil disobedience, in speaking up and speaking out, in condemning extremism and violence and the casual, calculated disregard for human life.”

She continued by contrasting the effects of righteousness and self-righteousness.

“And whereas righteousness leads and inspires – gives breath – self-righteousness tramples and suffocates, shutting out nuance or doubt,  stamping out empathy and humility and the possibility of human interconnectedness,” said McLarin.  

SOC student speaker Alexis Fried, MA ‘24 shared her journey of overcoming glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, through mindfulness and introspection. 

“It wasn’t until I confronted these fears and embraced mindfulness that I found clarity,” said Fried. “Turning off my computer, I closed my eyes, and searched inward, finding solace in stillness. In that moment of listening and observing, my true voice emerged, allowing this message to be shared.” 

Reflecting on the concept of imposter syndrome, Fried emphasized the importance of active listening and embracing silence in communication.

“Silence can become a powerful tool, conveying support and safety,” said Fried. “Through active listening, we signal to the other person that they are valued and respected.”

Emi Bague speaks from a lectern
Emi Bague, MA ’24, Associate Director for Emerson’s International Student Career Services, also received her masters and was the student speaker for the School of Arts Hooding Ceremony. (Photo by Christopher McIntosh)

An emotional Emi Bague, MA ’24, who received an MA in Writing and Publishing, and is Associate Director for Emerson’s International Student Career Services, shared admiration for her late father, a doctor, and his patients. Bague reflected on her own growth and pursuit of their creative passions.

“Whether it was watercolor flowers created from a brush in the artist’s mouth, or a spindly wooden tarantula, carved with expert precision, these patients found inspiration in the midst of trauma to create something new. Each work of art was a testament to their healing and new approach to life,” said Bague. “During the past four years, I dug deep and engaged in a way I never had before. 

Bague urged her fellow graduates to embrace their creativity and commitment to storytelling as a means of healing and inspiring hope in a broken world. 

“We might break too, sometimes. Our world is broken and will keep breaking. Voices have been silenced, from as close as Boylston Street to across the globe. All the more urgent is the need… to create and to spur each other on to create.”

School of Communication Photo Gallery

  • A group of alums pose for a photo
  • A person's mortar board
  • Two grads sit next to each other smiling and talking
  • A person's mortar board
  • A person's mortar board
  • A grad poses while smiling
  • A grad smiles
  • A group of alums pose
  • A group of alums pose for a photo

SOA student speaker Jordan Burnham-Bialik, MA ‘24 emphasized the responsibility to use one’s privilege and education to promote inclusivity and advocate for equity within the arts community.

“As we celebrate our achievements today, let’s also acknowledge the privilege that comes with our Emerson education,” said Burnham-Bialik. “With this privilege comes a responsibility to dismantle barriers and foster inclusivity within the arts community.”

Burnham-Bialik concluded by reminding graduates of their collective strength and the importance of continued collaboration 

“As has been true since the start of our Emerson journeys, we are each other’s greatest assets. Let’s continue working together, parlaying our expertise and assets into something much greater than ourselves.”

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