Commencement in front of Dean Hall

Dean College held its 157th Commencement Exercises honoring the Class of 2023 on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at the Dean College campus in Franklin, MA.

Approximately 270 graduates representing 26 states and four countries received their degrees, with many family members and friends in attendance. The ceremony was held outside on the front lawn of Dean Hall, along Awpie Way, with livestream options for those unable to attend.

The commencement address was provided by Andrea Kremer, the multi-Emmy Award winning sports journalist known for her roles as analyst on Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football, chief correspondent for the NFL Network, correspondent for HBO Real Sports, and co-host on CBS Sports Network. Kremer asked graduates to reflect on the people that were most meaningful on their path to commencement, explaining that it takes a village to get where they are today.

“In sports, you hear players talk about representing the name on the back of their jerseys,” she said. “Well, you all are representing the names on your degree. Today is about celebrating the journey that you’ve experienced with those most important in your lives.”

Kremer also shared the lessons she learned along that journey that have defined her career, hoping to share thought-provoking ideas that graduates could take with them down the road.

“When I sat where you are now, graduating college, the possibility of me doing what I am doing now – and have been doing for close to 40 years – would have been unthinkable,” Kremer said. She traced her journey from leaving law school to dancing ballet to writing theatre and dance reviews before finally breaking into sports journalism.

“I launched my career in sports journalism, which took off like a rocket, and I have never looked back. Some doors started to open and the rest I kicked down. I maximized being in the right place at the right time for career choices that I made and so can you,” Kremer said. “I became the first female producer, director, writer and editor at NFL Films and then ESPN’s first female correspondent and then the first full-time female NFL game analyst for Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football. I felt passionately about sports and storytelling and journalism. The average person spends 90,000 hours of their life at work. If you feel passionately about what you’re doing, I believe your life will take on new and important meaning and your feelings of self-worth will dominate.”

Additional remarks were presented by Kenneth Elmore, J.D., president of Dean College, and Mark Boyce, chair of the Dean College Board of Trustees. Elmore also asked graduates to recognize the people that have supported them along their path, from family and friends to the faculty and staff at Dean, and congratulated the Class of 2023 on their accomplishments. “Aim high, rise, and go out there and show me what you’ve got,” Elmore said.

Boyce shared three thoughts for graduates to take with them as citizens of the world. “Feel the love and support around you today, and remember in the ups and downs of life, don’t be afraid of feelings,” he said. “Speak the truth. The world is a crazy place, but you can make a difference – a Dean Difference – by simply speaking up for what is true and right in the world. Finally, do something to make the world a better place for ourselves and the people we love and care about.”

Representing the Class of 2023 was student speaker Enrico Hernandez, a Sport Management major from Cypress, California.

A transfer student from Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA, where he earned an associate degree in kinesiology with honors, Hernandez has been actively involved in a number of campus activities and athletic organizations. He held positions as a community advisor, a member of the Student-Athlete Athletics Committee and a member of the football team. He was named to the 2021 and 2022 Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) All-Academic Teams, the President’s List for Fall 2021 and the Dean’s List for Spring 2022 and Fall 2022. Additionally, Hernandez is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year college students that he joined while at Cerritos College, and Chi Alpha Sigma, the national honor society for college student-athletes who excel both on and off the field.

Hernandez spoke about the support and sense of community he felt from everyone on campus, emphasizing how important both were as he moved across the country to start his journey at Dean. He advised his fellow graduates to not let their fears hold them back as they embark on life after Dean, so that one day they can pay it forward and help others overcome their own challenges.

“Let your faith be bigger than your fear,” Hernandez said. “You are going to make it in life. Why do I know that? You may be going through struggles, stress, loss. But that is okay because that’s how life works. You are going to complete what you started. You did it here at Dean, so why not do it everywhere else you want to go? Those difficulties will turn into tools, and those tools will shape you towards the future. And guess what? You will then have the ability to help others who may be in the same situation.”

In addition to conferring degrees to the Class of 2023, honorary degrees were presented for the first time in the College’s history to three recipients for their extraordinary accomplishments and contributions to society. Andrea Kremer, the Emmy Award-winning sports journalist, ESPN’s first female correspondent, and trailblazer in the field of broadcast journalism, received a Doctor of Humane Letters; Marty Walsh, the former Mayor of Boston, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, and incoming Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players Association, received a Doctor of Public Service; and Rutina Wesley, the award-winning actress known for her roles in “True Blood,” “Queen Sugar” and “The Last of Us,” received a Doctor of Arts.

Prior to the Commencement Ceremony, all three honorary degree recipients addressed the Class of 2023, sharing experiences and advice for the graduates as they prepare to start their next chapters in life.

“There’s nothing that you can’t accomplish,” advised Walsh. “Life’s going to happen, you’re going to have obstacles. But stay focused on your dream. Stay focused on the goals that each and every one of you have today.”

Check out the photos and video recap below for more highlights from the Commencement Ceremony! View the full photo gallery here.