Earlier today, SCAD’s 33rd Commencement resembled a concert with its thunderous applause, endless cheers and the beach balls and glittering confetti at the end of the program.
During her opening remarks, President Paula Wallace congratulated the next generation of artists, designers, performers, and writers who had worked tirelessly to get to where they were. President Wallace also congratulated the 147 e-Learning graduates who were present during the ceremony. She then introduced a video, which highlighted the past events of the school year. The video showed scenes such as the SCAD Fashion Show, the Savannah Film Festival, the International Festival, and the Sand Arts Festival.
After the school song which was sung by members of the performing arts program, the salutatorian, Kate Kirby-O’Connell, the valedictorian, Naomi Fox, and the excelsus laureate, Will Penny were introduced to the audience. Fox, a fibers major, congratulated her fellow graduates and said that even though each of them had different backgrounds and majors, they all still shared the same passion to create. She thanked her parents for encouraging her creative side at a young age, her grandmother who served as her inspiration, and her brother, whom she dubbed as her “number one fan.” Fox also thanked her sisters, who had previously attended SCAD. She explained that because all three of her sisters came from SCAD, the school felt even more like family and a home to her.
Penny, a painting major, told the audience that as a child, he found it difficult to fit in but was finally able to do so at SCAD. After he graduated from SCAD with a B.F.A. in Painting, he worked in New York and Toronto. He returned to SCAD to “find my voice” in painting. While finishing his Master’s degree, Penny’s work was featured in deFine Art and the SCAD Fashion Show. He advised the students to collaborate and keep an open mind, to share their work and continue to explore.
Alan B. Whitaker, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, introduced Moshe Safdie, an award-winning architect, as the commencement speaker. Safdie told the graduating students that during his own graduation he had a dream of changing the world but did not know how yet. He shared that in 1959, he was given the Traveling scholarship and went to Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, where he was exposed not only to the architecture, but the people and their living conditions as well. The trip had a deep impact on him and influenced his Master’s thesis, which then went on to becoming the basis for Habitat ’67. Safdie told the graduates that every time they picked up a pen, pencil, paintbrush or computer, they should try to think about the people who would be affected by their work.
After he concluded his speech, Safdie was awarded with an honorary degree in design and sciences from President Wallace and Whitaker. Wallace then stepped onto the podium, congratulated the graduates once again and added that she needed some help to “get this party started.” The lights dimmed down and the SCAD Drum Line began to perform the song “Some Nights” by Fun. and included several large beach balls thrown to the graduates. Towards the end of the performance, glittering streamers were released into the air, which caused even more cheering.
Once the fanfare was over it was time for the graduating class to step up to the stage for their diploma and then take that next into their careers.