On Friday, August 11, 2017, 83 students walked across the stage at Alice Millar Chapel to receive their diplomas as the newest graduates of Northwestern’s Master of Science in Communication (MSC) program. It was an honor to see these students take this next step in their journey and join the ever-growing MSC Alumni Community.
Nearly 700 audience members cheered on their friends, family members, parents, coworkers and spouses as the graduates entered the Chapel to take their seats, and then as they walked across the stage. Among the speeches given was a welcome from Faculty Director, Michelle Shumate, PhD, who teaches in the program. Additionally, the Dean of the School of Communication, Barbara O’Keefe, PhD congratulated the Class of 2017 in her speech, and encouraged them to stay involved in the Northwestern alumni community.
It is a tradition in the MSC program that each year’s class nominate potential keynote speakers from their own networks. The class then votes on the nominees and the winner is invited by the Faculty Director and the student who made the nomination. This year’s keynote speaker was nominated and invited by MSC student, Lauren Rein. Lauren was able to leverage her professional network and invite Rocky Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, Chairman of Wirtz Corporation, and Northwestern University Trustee as the keynote speaker. Lauren also introduced Mr. Wirtz in a speech made to her classmates that highlighted the unique accomplishments they had throughout the 2016-2017 year. In the theme of traditions, Lauren’s speech also focused on the history of the MSC program, which is somewhat personal for her. Lauren’s father, Professor Irv Rein, was one of the founders of the MSC program over 30 years ago, and was in attendance at the ceremony to see his daughter give the convocation speech. Following Lauren, Mr. Wirtz’s speech mused on the many personal ties he holds with the Northwestern community, and especially to the School of Communication. He urged students to maintain the work ethic developed over their year in the MSC program and to bring that into their professional lives.
Among the 83 graduates were 12 Hybrid Leadership Program (HLP) students. This year, the MSC program launched the HLP to extend its geographic reach of Chicagoland and to embrace the challenges that professional students’ lives sometimes demand. The 12 HLP students completed the program by taking classes mostly online, and also coming to campus for four In Residence weekends throughout the 2016-2017 academic year. For these distance learners, being enveloped by the massive MSC community and celebrating the milestone of graduation with friends and family was and the perfect way to complete their fourth and final In Residence weekend.
After the ceremony, the new graduates joined their guests for a reception hosted by MSC Staff before heading off to celebrate their first free Saturday in weeks. On behalf of MSC staff and faculty: Congratulations to the Class of 2017. That’s a wrap!