The New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) held commencement on Sunday at the Rhode Island Convention Center, but it was more than just a standard graduation.
On hand to give the commencement speech for the more than 1,100 graduating students, as well as family friends and faculty, was 19-time NBA All-Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Abdul-Jabbar, a 7-foot-2 former center who played for the Milwaukee Bucks and, more famously, the Los Angeles Lakers, is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 career points, but is also a New York Times best-selling author, award-winning film producer and pop culture columnist for Esquire and Huffington Post. He is an advocate for cancer research after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2008. In 2012, he was named U.S. Cultural Ambassador by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
He was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, and shared some of his wisdom with the crowd.
Speaking for approximately 20 minutes, he outlined 15 pieces of advice that he hoped would help the graduates as they make the transition out of college and into the working world.
The points ranged from “Thank the people who helped you along the way” to “Stop watching any shows that include the cast of Jersey Shore,” adding humor to a mix of genuine tips.
“Success is a result, not a goal,” he said. “Prove to the world and yourself that you are worthy of being successful by making yourself successful.”
Abdul-Jabbar also told the graduates that they need to “take better care of their hair,” that they should “play more video games,” and that the “most important characteristic of a person is curiosity.”
The points that were humorous – such as play more video games – were delivered with a more wide-ranging message, as it was an example of how everybody should reward themselves with something they enjoy every day.
Other points were, “Use your powers for good,” “Being right is not always the best thing to be,” “Practice yoga,” “Career is never as important as family,” “Be patient,” “Everything doesn’t have to be fixed” and “Be prepared, because this is not your last graduation.”
He elaborated on that final point.
“Life is a series of graduations,” he said. “You graduate from school into the working world. You graduate from being single to being married. From being without children to never sleeping in again. From being a breadwinner to being retired. And so on. Each is a transitional period in which you have to shuck the old self and redefine who you are for your new future course.”
Abdul-Jabbar finished his speech with some humor, playing off his role in ABC reality show “Splash,” which he participated in this past season.
“Well, that’s 20 minutes,” he said. “And if I haven’t inspired you, at least you can tell your friends you saw a 7-foot-2, 66-year-old man who dove into a shark-invested pool covered in flames who used to be a pretty good basketball player.”
Also honored at the commencement was John Hazen White Jr., a prominent Rhode Island business leader and civic activist. White is president of Taco, Inc., a third-generation, $200 million manufacturing company headquartered in Cranston. White received an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree.
Warwick had a number of NEIT graduates. With an Associate’s Degree, they are: Cory M. Baker, Armia Banoub*, Nicole P. Beaudoin, Princeton D. Boston*, Jennifer W. Brandon*, Thomas J. Brennan II+, James E. Brookman, Olivia C. Burton*+, Jessica M. Butts+, Caroline M. Campbell, Nicole M. Carroll, Jason K. Carter, Kimberly A. Clark, Adam C. Cudworth+, Tiffany D. Cunha+, John A. Curran III+, Deanthony P. Defreitas, Mason DelGiudice, Melissa M. DeLuca, Joseph M. DiPrete, Kenneth C. Dupuis, Craig S. Everitt Jr*+, Gaige E. Fox*, Adam B. Garner, Amy E. Ginaitt*+, Cordell C. Gutierrez+, Alex C. Hager, Nicholas M. Haidemenos, Mark A. Hallett, Ean A. Hansen*, Kameron B. James, Hunter D. Janovsky+, Kelli J. Jourdain+, Daniel J. Kidder, Allison B. Killilea, Jennifer L. Lebel*+, Michael W. Lebel*, Anthony P. Lemonde, Katherine M. Mandolfi+, Stephen M. Marold, Benjamin J. Marron+, Amy C. Martin+, Frank O. Mattera*, Megan E. Michaud*, Murray R. Mitchell*, Jessica S. Moone, Jesse M. Moorehead, Willie J. Moseley, Christopher L. Nelson, Sage M. Neto, Tammy L. Olson+, John Paul*, Maximilian K. Pelletier+, Emily L. Perry+, Jeffrey H. Peterson*+, Charl es W. Piazza, Erik B. Pimentel, Ivandro L. Pires*, Michael A. Procko, Saamir Qadir+, Elizabeth A. Richard*, Hector D. Rivera, Anthony J. Rossi, Mark D. Rossi, Derek W. Rotondo, Alec C. Shappy, Edward M. Shay, Justin J. Shea, Kelly R. Slater, Forrest C. Smith, Alan L. St Pierre Jr*, Tyler J. Sutcliffe*, Nicolas J. Tadlock, Duane A. Talbot, Nicole M. Thurston, Bryan D. Tweedie, Dominic O. Valmond, Massiel A. Verria*, Kevin M. Williams+.
Graduates with an Bachelor’s of Science Degree are: Troy F. Alves, Kathleen Bennett*, Heather L. Cost, Joshua D. DaSilva*, Jesse A. Dugas, Mitchell D. Gaudette, Alan J. Golde, Matthew T. Grace, Patrick J. Harnedy, Patrick W. Hurteau+, Crystal L. King+, Oliviann A. Langeland+, Marlon Llewelyn, Eric W. Lyman, Kyle McQueeney*, William G. Norsworthy*, Peter F. Rice, Kejon P. Sampson, Teche E. Smith, Alfred G. Soucy*, Courtney Sylvia+, Jessica E. Taft+, Jonathan A. Yaghjian.
Students with a * symbol received honors. Students with a + symbol are potential June grads.
Under the leadership of President Richard I. Gouse, New England Institute of Technology is a private, non-profit, technical college with an enrollment of more than 3,000 students. The college awards associate, bachelor and master’s degrees and is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.