Graduation Never Seemed So Good

When it came time to celebrate the Classes of 2020 and 2021, Suffolk hit it out of the park—and not just any park. On May 22-23, Boston’s quintessential downtown university held its six Commencement ceremonies in one of Boston’s most iconic landmarks, Fenway Park, awarding more than 4,000 undergraduate and advanced degrees.

Photographs by Michael J. Clarke

Student Marshall at the Fenway Commencement Ceremony


Suffolk took over Fenway Park for a joy-filled Commencement weekend, celebrating all that the Classes of 2020 and 2021 endured and achieved on their road to graduation.

When the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 graduated on May 22-23, they took with them not only their well-earned Suffolk degrees but also what Commencement graduate student speaker Robert Osgood, EMBA ’20, called “an extraordinary education in personal strength.”

Fenway Park—home to so many other hard-won victories—proved to be the perfect place to celebrate that strength.

Over the course of six separate, sometimes sweltering, ceremonies for the College of Arts & Sciences, Sawyer Business School, and the Law School, Suffolk awarded a total of 4,017 undergraduate and advanced degrees. Harder to measure were the powerful emotions that filled Fenway, from the hot, happy graduates arrayed across the outfield to their beaming family members socially distanced throughout Fenway’s stands and the proud Suffolk leaders, faculty, and trustees seated onstage near the Green Monster. Unofficial estimates put the joy index just shy of the 2004 World Series.

A student prepares to move their tassel during the commencement ceremony

President Marisa Kelly lauded graduates for their adaptability, drive, and activism. “As we continue to work toward a more just and equitable society, and as we emerge from the pandemic, our communities need you more than ever,” said Kelly. “I have every confidence that you will be an important part of the solution, because when tested with enormous challenges, you have stepped up and succeeded.”

CAS Class of 2021 Speaker Marty Baron, former editor of the Boston Globe

Legendary newspaper editor and honorary degree recipient Marty Baron echoed that charge in his address to the CAS Class of 2021, in what The Washington Post called “the college commencement speech for our times.” He urged graduates to rebuild American institutions “at a time when the temptation has been to tear them down.”

Baron, who led The Boston Globe for 11 years and recently retired as executive editor of the Post, acknowledged that “many institutions have failed the public, and those failings are fresh in our minds.” Yet without strong, vibrant institutions, he said, “our democracy [has been] pushed to the brink.

“We can either give up on institutions that betray our values, or we can seek to repair them. I urge you to take the latter course. Repair them,” he said. “Choose your own institution. Make it more responsive. Make it more just. Make it more equitable. Make it more inclusive. Make it more creative. Make it better. Build it up.”

The weekend’s other honorary degree recipients and speakers were Dr. Karen DeSalvo, BA ’88, HDHL ’10, Google’s chief health officer; the Hon. Serge Georges, Jr., JD ’96, an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; Carmen Ortiz, the former U.S. district attorney for Massachusetts who oversaw the prosecution of the Boston Marathon.

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