Spring commencement honorees announced

April 29, 2024
Portrait of Yla Eason Commencement Speaker May 2024
Portrait of Yla Eason Commencement Speaker May 2024
Yla Eason '71

Fitchburg State University alumna Yla Eason, who founded a multiracial toy company dedicated to fighting the racial imbalance in toys and superheroes, will deliver the address at the undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18.

Eason, a 1971 graduate of Fitchburg State, is an accomplished marketing professional based in the Greater New York City area and currently serves as an assistant professor of professional practice at the Rutgers University Business School in New Jersey, where her focus is business communications and marketing.

“Yla Eason’s inspirational story of activism and entrepreneurship sends a powerful message for the Class of 2024,” said Fitchburg State President Richard S. Lapidus. “We are honored to welcome her back to campus to continue our tradition of presenting accomplished alumni as our commencement speakers.”

Lapidus will also address graduates and guests at the ceremony, which will be his final commencement as president of Fitchburg State. He is retiring from his post in June.

Eason is the founder of Olmec Toys, which has reached over $5 million in sales, and is nationally recognized for pioneering a new market in the toy industry while also promoting racial diversity. In addition to her Bachelor of Arts degree from Fitchburg State, Eason received an MBA from Harvard Business School. 

Portrait of Rey Lopez
Reinaldo "Rey" Lopez

Eason will be presented the President’s Medal at the undergraduate ceremony.

Reinaldo “Rey” Lopez is the founder of Resource Management Inc., one of the nation’s largest Hispanic-owned businesses, will also be presented the President’s Medal at the undergraduate ceremony.

Born in Puerto Rico, he migrated to the mainland United States with his mother in 1962 and soon joined her working in the tobacco fields to help support the family. His mother’s tireless work ethic and commitment to family proved a solid foundation upon which Lopez would build for the rest of his career.

Honorees at the undergraduate ceremony will also include valedictorian Jyy Rose Liang of Lunenburg, majoring in educational studies. 

Fitchburg State will hold its graduate commencement ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16 at the Athletics and Recreation Center. That ceremony will include the presentation of the Graduate Student Leadership Award to Ali Raza, who is completing a master’s degree in computer science.

Additional information on the ceremony and honorees may be found at fitchburgstate.edu/commencement.

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