Commencement ceremonies mark the culmination of students’ collegiate experiences, celebrate their academic achievements and commemorate the beginning of their promising futures. This year, Kean University will proudly confer more than 3,600 degrees – the largest number of graduates in the university’s history – during two rousing ceremonies steeped in traditional pomp and circumstance, inspirational messages and contemporary flair.
The Nathan Weiss Graduate College will award more than 800 master’s degrees and professional diplomas during the 2012 Graduate Commencement exercises on May 15 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). The ceremony will feature what promises to be a thought- and action-provoking keynote address by Wes Moore, a youth advocate, U.S. Army combat veteran, business leader and author of The Other Wes Moore: One Name and Two Fates — A Story of Tragedy and Hope.
From 2005 to 2006, Moore was a paratrooper and captain in the United States Army, serving a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan with the elite 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division. As a 2006-2007 White House Fellow, Moore served as a special assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He later became an investment professional at Citigroup in New York, focusing on global technology and alternative investments.
Moore earned an MLitt in from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University. An Asia Society Fellow, he was also named one of Ebony magazine’s Top 30 Leaders Under 30 in 2007 and Crain’s New York Business’ 40 Under 40 Rising Stars in 2009. He was a featured speaker at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Today, Moore supports U.S. veterans and examines the roles that education, mentoring and public service play in the lives of American youth. He serves on the board of the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America and founded an organization through Johns Hopkins called STAND! that works with youth in Baltimore’s criminal justice system.
On May 17, scores of graduates, relatives and friends are expected to fill the Prudential Center for the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony where Kean will confer baccalaureate degrees upon nearly 3,000 graduates. America Ferrera, a devoted humanitarian and actress best known for her lead role in ABC’s hit drama-comedy Ugly Betty, will provide graduates with practical advice about perseverance and service to humanity during her keynote address.
Of Honduran descent, Ferrera made her feature-film debut in the indie hit Real Women Have Curves, earning the Jury Award for best actress at the Sundance Film Festival. After several guest appearances on television and performances in such films as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Lords of Dogtown, Ferrera received a Movieline Breakthrough Award.
In 2006, Ferrera landed the starring role in Ugly Betty, the adaptation of the Colombian telenovela Betty La Fea. Her portrayal of Betty Suarez garnered critical acclaim and earned her an Emmy, Golden Globe, NAACP Actors Guild and Screen Actors Guild awards.
The actress has also lent her voice to Dreamwork’s Oscar-nominated animated film How to Train Your Dragon and Disney’s Tinkerbell. She starred in and was the executive producer for the poignant short film Muertas and The Dry Land, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
Ferrera also dedicates her time, energy and star power to causes that impact children and their education. In 2007, TIME Magazine named Ferrera among their TIME 100: The Most Influential People in the World. That same year, she won Imagen Foundation’s Creative Achievement Award. She has received a Hispanic Heritage Foundation Inspira Award and Cesar E. Chavez Legacy Award for her commitment to helping lead underprivileged families and youth to a better life.
In 2008, Ferrera became an artist ambassador for Save the Children, and has since raised more than $44,000 to build a new elementary school in Mali. For her work, she received a 2011 Global Action award in childhood development and education. More recently, she traveled to India with The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to participate in the PBS film Half the Sky, which draws a compelling picture of the trials and triumphs of women worldwide as they struggle for opportunity and equality.