“I found home here at Northeastern and I believe so many of us did.” – Graduate Commencement Speech 2021

Good Morning family, friends, faculty, and fellow graduates. It is an honor to be part of this celebration, the graduation ceremony at Fenway Park along with my fellow Huskies. The intensity of emotions filling this stadium is absolutely overwhelming as we take a major step in our lives, ONE that should be recognized with immense pride. My name is Gagan Dep Prabhu, and I am graduating with a Master’s degree from the Engineering Management Program in the College of Engineering at Northeastern University.

Commencement speeches are challenging. When I began writing this, I was wondering how I could make a speech that wasn’t a cliché or superficial, especially in front of all my peers I have spent the last 2.5 years with—feels like I am going to be evaluated on Canvas once again. I should probably get on with what I have to say. After all, on this momentous day, the last thing you want to do is listen to a stranger ramble endlessly. Coming to the United States has always been THE dream. Growing up watching American movies and TV shows, I was well-educated about what this country offers and how this is the “Land of Opportunities”.

As I stepped through the doors of Ell Hall for the first time on December 28th, 2018— just a few hours after having landed from a 20-hour long flight and with no quarantine (what a weird world we lived in back then!), something familiar hit me. It wasn’t like Deja-Vu but more like a sense of belonging to this place. I know Ell Hall is pretty small and we have many more spectacular spaces on our campus, but for me, this was the moment where I felt, “I made it!”. As I walked between the glowing archway separating the Egan Research Center and the Snell Engineering building, I felt determined to make a mark; and of course, had the “wow” moment. Rushing between classes from Forsyth to West Village, releasing some steam at the Gameroom, chilling at Centennial/Krentzman Quads, lifting weights at Marino/Squashbusters, or just studying at Snell Library – Northeastern University has been home with a plethora of memories attached for all of us. However, being an international student in a different country, with diverse cultures, unknown faces, and unfamiliar surroundings—worry starts to hit you right in the face. Before you realize what’s happening, you are already running a race for grades, projects, research, Co-Op, and so on. But in between all the juggling—as we get through tasks and check off milestones one after the other, we sometimes forget to inculcate peace within us.

For each of us, home is unique and different. It could be a place like Northeastern University, or people like family and friends, or even just an object which makes you ‘feel’ at home. I believe home is a state of mind where you are at peace with yourself and in that precise moment, makes you feel content and satisfied. I found home here at Northeastern and I believe so many of us did. But, as we propel ourselves into the wildness out there called life, I have just one piece of advice to give. Seek your home, and if you have found it, stay connected with it. Once you hit that jackpot of self-satisfaction, you will get the freedom to live your life to the fullest, chase the dreams the kid inside you always aspired to accomplish, or just simply, grow as a person. For this unique cohort of students, we are a once-in-a-lifetime set of graduates who have fiercely fought through this global pandemic to emerge as winners. Each and every one of you is a WINNER, despite all the challenges that were thrown at us, we came out of it, alive, determined than ever. So don’t ever let anyone tell you that the Sky is the Limit, because, for all of us, it is just the beginning.

Today, we celebrate each of us for accomplishing the goal that we set for ourselves. I would like you all to take this moment to recognize that if we put our minds, we can achieve whatever we want. So let us cherish this win, build that momentum and trigger an unstoppable chain of victories.

After more than two years filled with incredible moments at the university, I stand here as your commencement speaker, and express sincere gratitude to the administration for running this university like a well-oiled machine, to the faculty for imparting your unparalleled knowledge to set us up for success, to the staff who ensured we were well looked after, to the parents, guardians, and family for supporting us and standing by us through thick and thin, and finally Northeastern – THANK YOU! FOR EVERYTHING.


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