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Bonnie Hammer announced as 2017 commencement speaker

President Brown speaks at the Senior Class Breakfast, marking the start of the 2017 commencement season. PHOTO BY CHLOE GRINBERG/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Bonnie Hammer, NBCUniversal’s Cable Entertainment Group chair and 1971 alumna of Boston University’s College of Communication, will be this year’s commencement speaker, BU President Robert Brown announced Thursday morning at the Senior Class Breakfast.

The annual breakfast, held in Metcalf Hall, kicked off commencement season. Approximately 2,500 seniors gathered to recognize the achievements of their class, to hear who will be honored and who will speak at commencement on May 21.

In regards to Hammer being chosen as the commencement speaker, Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said he is excited to have such an influential speaker address the Class of 2017.

“I think it’s really cool that we [brought] this powerful woman in here,” Elmore said after the breakfast. “It’s interesting to see how stories affect us. She’s at the forefront of all that. She makes sure the stories get told. Most would say she’s behind the scenes of our lives, so it’s great to see what she has to say.”

Morgan Cappetta, a senior in the Questrom School of Business, said she is happy to see BU bring in a female commencement speaker.

“I haven’t really heard of [Hammer], but I’m excited,” Cappetta said after the breakfast. “She manages a lot of the shows I’ve seen and liked, so [that’s] pretty cool.”

Andrew Keuler, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he thinks Hammer showcases the success of BU’s alumni.

“I think it’s really great to see the progress of BU alumni, especially on the West Coast,” he said after the breakfast. “I think it’s really impressive that she was rated the most powerful woman in Hollywood [by The Hollywood Reporter].”

Daniel Leman, a CAS senior, said although Hammer follows the recent trend of commencement speakers in communication fields, she will have a powerful presence.

“It’s following a pattern of COM speakers, but she’s a good representation of women in business,” he said.

Dean of Marsh Chapel Robert Hill opened the breakfast by leading the seniors in a short prayer, encouraging the crowd to “go with gladness each step of the way.”

Elmore then presented a short video highlighting student life on campus, including hockey games, late nights in Mugar Memorial Library and other activities.

2015 alum Jeffrey Herrera welcomed the Class of 2017 to the BU Alumni Association and congratulated them on their achievements.

“You should really be proud of yourselves,” Herrera said. “Graduating from BU is no easy feat, and you’re all so close to the finish line.”

Herrera ended his remarks with some advice for the seniors.

“One, get involved in things that make you happy,” he said. “Two, invest in worthwhile relationships. Three, don’t stress out about the small things … focus on the things that matter.”

Elmore recognized BU Sustainability intern Ryan Peters and Divest BU member Rachel Eckles as recipients of the Student Sustainability Leadership Award, followed by other seniors who won awards specific to their respective colleges.

After Elmore announced that CAS senior Maxwell Robidoux will be the student speaker at this year’s commencement, Elmore welcomed Brown to the stage.

“You’re in the final stretch of the longest running challenge in your life,” Brown said.

Brown awarded the Metcalf Awards for Excellence in Teaching to School of Law professor Gary Lawson and School of Public Health professor Sophie Godley.

He announced this year’s honorary degree recipients, University of California at San Diego professor Mario Molina, BU Parents Leadership Council chairman Jeanne Knox, former BU Board of Trustees Chair Robert Knox, retired Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz and Hammer as the commencement speaker.

Brown spoke about the major events the senior class was around for, including the Boston Marathon bombings, the 2015 snowiest Boston winter in history and the 2013 Red Sox World Series victory.

Brown recognized alumni achievements, highlighting the six BU alumni included in Forbes Magazine’s 2015 “30 Under 30” list and The Hollywood Reporter’s 2014 article naming BU as “Hollywood’s Secret Female Training Ground.”

“Other people are noticing what you do when you work for them,” Brown said. “They’re noticing how well you’re educated and what you’re capable of doing.”

Several students reflected on their time at BU after the breakfast.

Brittany Tyrrell, a senior in CAS, said although she is ready to start the next chapter of her life, she will miss being a BU student.

“I’m very sad about the transitions and not being a student because I have been [one] for so long,” Tyrrell said.

Bria Adams, a senior in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said her experience at BU has helped her to be equipped for life post-graduation.

“It was definitely rigorous, but [BU] was definitely good in exposing [students] to different aspects that you didn’t you might need to know,” Adams said. “It was definitely a holistic experience overall.”

Similarly, Amanda Cassera, a senior in Sargent, said she feels prepared to go into the world after graduation.

“I think my four years here have been really well spent,” Cassera said. “I’m ready for a new adventure and ready for a new change of pace and change of scenery.”

Noor Adatia contributed to the reporting of this article.

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