116th Commencement Exercises
Fitchburg State University on Saturday celebrated its 116th Commencement Exercises, undergraduate spring ceremony. More than 4,500 well-wishers were in attendance as approximately 600 undergraduates crossed the stage on the main quad.
On Thursday night, the university celebrated the conferring of approximately 200 graduate degrees at Weston Auditorium.
The commencement address was given by Ethan F. Becker ’93, pictured above, a published author, international speech coach and developer of communication training and coaching programs. Becker is also president of The Speech Improvement Co.
In his remarks, Becker encouraged the graduates not to be afraid to fail as they pursue their goals.
“Don’t get angry,” he said. “Get good.”
He also told them to embrace their futures and be proactive.
“Nobody’s going to tell you to do it,” Becker said. “That’s the secret. Don’t wait. You’ve got to be proactive.”
Fitchburg State President Robert V. Antonucci also presented Becker with an honorary doctorate.
Earlier Saturday, President Antonucci awarded Juliette Youngblood ’84 and Simone Youngblood ’84 each the Distinguished Alumna Award.
Juliette Youngblood’s career has encompassed an impressive cross-section of Hollywood’s award-winning production companies, networks, and studios. Youngblood, of Los Angeles, Calif., is president of Youngblood Group PC. Her longtime clients include Viacom, Paramount Pictures, CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Survivor Entertainment Group.
Simone Youngblood is a member of the principal professional staff at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and a nationally-recognized expert in the field of modeling and simulation verification, validation, and accreditation (collectively known as VV&A). VV&A is focused on gathering and evaluating evidence to determine a simulation's capabilities, limitations and performance relative to the real-world objects being simulated.
The Youngblood sisters were also recognized at the annual alumni breakfast that preceded the commencement ceremony.
On Thursday night, President Antonucci recognized Dr. Elaine Francis, professor emerita, with the outstanding contributions to the graduate program award. A graduate of Fitchburg State’s Special Education Department, and a faculty member since 1978, Francis, pictured here with President Antonucci, became the university’s first dean of education in 2003. Throughout her career she insisted on high standards for the university’s programs to ensure that graduates were highly qualified to become educators. Before working at the university she spent years as a teacher of children and adult students with moderate to severe special needs. She built on this work to co-author a textbook, Understanding and Implementing Inclusion: A Practical Guide for Classroom Teachers, published in 2003 and still in use today.
Also recognized Thursday was Beverly S. Farias, a 1952 graduate who is completing a 10-year tenure on the university’s Board of Trustees. Farias, pictured at right with President Antonucci, has been an impassioned and effective voice for Fitchburg State alumni. Her commitment to the university far exceeds that term of office, however, as Farias can point to more than six decades of engagement with the campus community. On Thursday she was presented the Trustee Award for Service.
In addition to the crowds gathered under a cloudless sky Saturday on campus, the commencement ceremony was streamed live online. Viewers logged in from Brazil, China, Germany, Haiti, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Thursday night’s ceremony also streamed online and also drew international views, from Argentina, China, Hungary, India, Japan and Sweden.