Graduates urged to take risks and seek satisfying work

Northeastern’s Class of 2012 gathered for the final time as students Friday at a commencement ceremony in TD Garden led by a rousing speech from former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The undergraduate Class of 2012 consisted of 3,200 students, according to a statement from the university.

President Joseph E. Aoun urged the graduates to to take risks in his missive. Aoun noted how he “traded security for opportunity” when he was a recent graduate, according to a transcript of his speech posted online. He urged the Northeastern students to do the same in search of great rewards.

Emily Batt, a physics major and one of Northeastern’s “Most Influential Seniors,” was the student speaker for the 110th Commencement. She spoke of how, at Northeastern, students learned to develop relationships with the people around them and their environments. For the graduates, Batt said, such relationships will be an important and cooperative part of individual success in the future.

When Powell took the stage, several students using the official Commencement hashtag, #NU2012, reported on Twitter that some of their peers were drifting into sleep and boredom. But the retired U.S. general quickly energized the crowd with a light-hearted blend of humor, wit and inspiration.

Powell told students of meeting his wife on a blind date in Boston and of almost ditching his own graduation. He preferred a stool in a local bar. His mother did not. But he also tried to motivate with his address, encouraging the graduates to seek satisfying work — perhaps even in public or elective office.

“We can’t sit around waiting for superman to come save the day,” he said “We the people are the supermen and superwomen.”

After the speeches finished, President Aoun saluted each of the colleges, and all graduates processed in two lines to receive their diplomas from college deans. The ceremony lasted approximately two and a half hours.

For more Commencement coverage, check out The News’s Storify post.

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