What’s it Like to Speak to Your Entire Graduating Class?

The Newhouse School’s 2024 Convocation speakers reflect on the excitement and responsibility of the moment.

Jared Dowling ’24

Public Relations

When I received the message announcing that I had been chosen to give the undergraduate student address for the Newhouse Convocation, I nearly dropped my phone out of sheer excitement. Graduation speeches are normal, but the Class of 2024 is so unique in the fact that many of us never experienced a high school graduation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just four years ago I was senior class president, forced to give my graduation speech to an empty football stadium for a virtual ceremony, so the opportunity to unite my peers with a celebratory message was not something I took for granted. 

a person in a graduation gown stands outside and smiles
Jared Dowling

As I researched and viewed previous convocation speakers’ speeches, I knew that I wanted to leave my classmates with a relatable and motivational message that would empower them as they reflected on their journey through Newhouse and Syracuse University.  This central idea is how I eventually developed “The Power of a Melting Pot” – to illustrate how the Syracuse University community allowed each and every one of us to embrace all of the parts of our personal identities and how maintaining that community as we enter our adult lives is paramount to future success. 

On the actual day of graduation, I was filled with nervous anticipation as all of the soon-to-be graduates made their way toward the JMA Wireless Dome. I meticulously double and triple-checked all of the parts of my regalia to make sure that everything would be perfect while sitting on stage. But as Dean Lodato introduced me to speak, all of my nerves went away as I looked through the crowd and saw so many familiar faces – friends I’d shared countless memories with, faculty members who’ve provided priceless guidance and even my family sitting front-row cheering me on.

three people in graduation gowns stand and smile
L-R: Dowling stands with fellow Newhouse graduates Nicole Aponte and Annie Levin (Photo Genaro C. Armas)

The most surprising thing to come from my speech, however, was the number of people who genuinely loved it and resonated with the personal messages I shared. Over the next couple of days on campus, there was an outpouring of love and appreciation as people not only congratulated me on a job well done but took time to be vulnerable themselves and shared how my message had caused them to truly reflect on the people and place Newhouse and Syracuse had become in their lives. 

As a proud graduate of the Newhouse School, I will be working as a senior communications specialist at ADP (Automatic Data Processing) in Roseland, New Jersey, on their public relations and marketing team to forward their mission of amplifying the ADP brand. I look forward to leveraging all of the experiences gained during my time at Newhouse to be a fearless communicator in the workforce!

Gloria Rivera G’24

Goldring Arts Journalism and Communications

When I first received an email asking if I’d like to be considered to speak at the Newhouse convocation, I was flooded with so much angst and excitement. I often forget to push myself to be bold and do things that bring me out of my comfort zone. However, I saw this as an opportunity to share my story and talk a bit about my journey to Newhouse.  

a person in a graduation cap and gown holds their diploma
Gloria Rivera

I fully believe that as people, we’re not singular. I’m not just a first-generation Latina student, I am not just a New Yorker, I am a complex blend of the generations before me. Their hard work, challenges and dedication has paved the way for me to land where I am today. 

I was honored to stand in front of my peers and share that story. We have been reminded multiple times that the state of journalism today is challenging and complex. We are reminded that entering this world is an immense feat. And yet, I have watched my peers approach these challenges with such grit. Which is why I have no doubt that we’ll be more than okay. However, I wanted to be sure to include a reminder that while we’re entering this world, we have a duty to think about more than just us. We have a duty to grow, rehabilitate these relationships and be better for the generations to come. 

a person in a graduation cap and gown speaks at a podium
Gloria Rivera gives the graduate student address. (Syracuse University photo/Angela Ryan)

“As journalists and communicators, our stories are told – and our integrity is all we have. Not everything we do will change the world, but we have to make sure we’re enacting the change that we want to see in the world. Who we are today is what determines the future generation’s tomorrow, whether we get to see it or not.  

As you enter a world still riddled with inaccuracies, hypocrisy and a lack of representation, remember that you get to choose to be better. You get to determine your legacy and how you tell the stories that deserve to be told.” 

I’m still immensely humbled by this opportunity and hope that my story is an ounce of insight into how large the realm of possibilities really is. Congratulations to the Class of 2024, it’s an honor to join this industry with you all as my peers.