Commencement ceremony full of music and gratitude

May 21, 2012 5:45 AM

Mary Ann Travis

In a Mercedes-Benz Superdome ceremony swinging with music, academic degrees were conferred on 2,700 graduates of Tulane University on Saturday (May 19).  President Scott Cowen said that the graduates, like the New Orleans musicians who serenaded them, would forever be “part of the rhythm of this city.”


Commencement 2012

Commencement 2012 celebrates the achievements of its graduating class, one of the largest in recent memory. (Photos by Paula Burch-Celentano)

“You know that a horn can stir the soul and touch the heart like nothing else,” said Cowen.

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, one of the musicians who moved the audience, received a President’s Medal in recognition for his Horns in the Schools Project. He played and sang “When the Saints Go Marching In,” along with Dr. Michael White’s Original Liberty Jazz Band.

Commencement speaker and alumna Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, lauded the graduates for coming to Tulane only a couple of years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

“All of you understood that choosing Tulane would place demands on you that other schools would not.”

Jackson, a New Orleans native and 1983 Tulane chemical engineering graduate, poignantly recounted her personal Katrina story of her mother losing everything in her flooded Pontchartrain Park home in the Ninth Ward.


In her lively keynote speech, Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, lauds the graduates for choosing Tulane in 2008, just three years after Hurricane Katrina.

She thanked the graduates for contributing to the rebuilding of New Orleans through their commitment to public service.

“Have no doubt,” said Jackson, “that what you have done means a great deal to this country in a difficult time. When people see that this city is able to get on its feet again, when they see that it can emerge stronger and with a sense of accomplishment and community and possibility, they see what it takes to rebuild.”

And when people around the nation see Tulane — “the school at the heart of New Orleans — turning out a new generation of leaders and innovators, it shines a light on the road ahead of all of us,” said Jackson.

To view the live-stream video from Saturday's ceremony, click here.


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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000