SCMA Graduate School Commencement Exercises

Sacred Heart University’s School of Communication, Media & the Arts recently awarded master’s degrees to nearly 100 graduate students at an intimate ceremony in the Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center.

Faculty, staff, friends and family gathered in the Martire atrium for congratulatory remarks from administrators and guest speakers before diplomas were bestowed.

“You are graduating at the right time,” said Rupendra Paliwal, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “There is a demand for your skills. As long as you are passionate and willing to learn and unlearn, you will be successful. The future is bright for you.”

Graduates sat on the atrium’s stairs and occasionally waved at family members or friends in the audience. They listened intently to their faculty members and guest speaker, Freddie Coleman, an ESPN radio host.

“I am very jealous of what you have in front of you,” Coleman said. “You are the new generation; you are leading a new way.”

Coleman, a nationally syndicated radio host and commentator, has been with ESPN since 2004. He’s made guest appearances on television shows such as First Take and Aircheck. He also has covered the NFL draft from Radio City Music Hall in New York City and has interviewed an array of athletes and entertainers.

The radio personality told the graduates that it’s okay not to know everything. “No one is great or good at the beginning,” he said as he encouraged them not to be afraid or stand in their own way. Coleman said he’s had many failures, but those failures kept him going and reaching for his goals. “The competition is going to be fierce, but competition makes you better…Understand how to be the best,” he advised.

When the graduates received their diplomas, they embraced their professors, gave high-fives and fist-bumps to their peers and stopped briefly to pose for pictures.

Once all the names were read, Paula Cocozza, a media literacy and digital culture (MLDC) graduate, approached the podium.

She told her peers that, 26 years ago, she said she was never going to graduate school. At that time, she was a successful news producer and eventually became a stay-at-home mom.

Then, with her children ready to enter college, she realized she wanted to start the next phase in life. She did some research and learned about SHU’s MLDC program, which includes her two passions: media and social justice. “This program has changed my world,” Cocozza said.

She encouraged her peers to be humble and enjoy the simple things, because they can bring immense joy. “Don’t hold on too tightly; let things go,” said she. “This is essential for living a free and healthy life.”

Closing out the ceremony, Cocozza led her peers in the traditional turning of the tassel.

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