Knight Goes Double-Viking As SSU Graduates 1,882 | News


SALEM — This year’s debut drills at Salem State University saw a Knight become a double Viking.

That’s why the “’22H” on nationally acclaimed cartoonist Keith Knight’s credentials could just as well mean “back to basics” rather than “honorary.” To open the fourth of five SSU commencement ceremonies, he became a Doctor of Humane Letters 32 years after earning an undergraduate degree in graphic design, media, and communications at Salem State College in 1990.

“You children, remember that! he shouted, pointing to the audience. Then he turned to the group of 64 graduates and 321 undergraduates he spoke to on the start of the school year on Saturday morning. “I’m talking to my kids… (turning around) You call me doctor! You call me doctor daddy!”

In five ceremonies that ended Saturday, Salem State graduated 587 graduates and 1,295 undergraduates, including 253 “Double Vikings” receiving their second degrees from Salem State. Knight spoke as the keynote speaker and honorary degree recipient at the fourth ceremony, where degrees were awarded to 385 students from the College of Arts and Sciences.

After graduating from undergrad in 1990, Knight went on to create the K Chronicles, a comic book that quickly gained national syndication and worldwide recognition. The comic often carries social justice tones, much like most of Knight’s other creative expansions across different mediums. This includes “Woke”, a two-season television series on the Hulu streaming platform. In the show, “Keef Knight” – the caricature of himself producing Knight comics – uses his creativity and his platform as a newly “woke” but already established black artist dealing with a profiling incident race that opened the series.

“You were inspired by a high school teacher who said you should be unionized, and you were influenced by the work of a college teacher who introduced you to Maya Angelou, James Baldwin and Richard Wright,” said Nate Bryant, Vice President of Student Success. at Salem State and Knight’s RA when he was a student. “You cleverly use humor to deliver a dose of reality on major issues of social and racial injustice, and the ignorance that so often fuels them.

“You make us all think, watch and listen,” Bryant concluded. “As a Salem State alumnus, you make us all exceptionally proud.”

Knight was on campus Friday morning, May 20, to screen a recent episode of Woke. In the episode, Knight’s character has to speak at a virtual gathering and needs to quickly catch up on the “woke” issues of the day ahead of time.

It was Knight’s first opportunity to see an episode of the show’s second season.

“It’s really a joy to sit down and watch it with people,” the cartoonist said after the episode. “I have probably the worst job I could ever have, in the sense that it’s such a lonely job…And I like to be around people. That’s probably why I draw in cafes all the time. “

Soon the cartoonist had to address the graduates – like Keef Knight having to address a woke gathering, Keith Knight faced a new kind of mission when he entered the O’Keefe Arena on Saturday morning in a graduation dress and its olive green cap.

“Thirty-two years ago I was sitting where you are sitting,” he said, then focused on himself as a beginner speaker and what he remembered of his time as a graduate. “I don’t remember anything anyone said that day… so I’m just going to be really fast – I’m not going to be that fast, though.”

Knight’s first tip: know where the good bathrooms are. It’s something every student faces both on campus and in the real world, he explained.

“Use the campus, every aspect of the campus. Know where the good bathrooms are. Use the library. Get good food and know where the free food is,” Knight said. “Treat the next phase of your life like another college campus that you want to conquer. That’s how I saw it when I left here and moved to San Francisco: I knew that I just had to figure out where the good bathrooms were, where the cheap burritos are…and how am I going to get to the newspaper?”

Knight also told the freshly minted sea of ​​alumni to always share their story, because “each of you had a different route to get here, and each of you has a story that we can all learn from.”

“If you’re all sharing your story, you don’t know who’s listening and you won’t know who you’re inspired by,” Knight said. “You all inspire everyone in this room right now…just the fact that you’re here right now.”

Finally, dig into the crates – a reference to digging into music boxes to access the lesser-loved and richer items at the bottom.

“It’s the same with history,” he said. “I want you to dig into the crates and find the story that will fill you, that will feed you. This experience, learning about Baldwin, Angelou and Wright – has fed me in ways that I can’t quite describe. with words. So keep looking. Keep learning. Keep growing.”


Bertolon Business School

Ceremony held on Thursday, May 19 at 9:30 a.m.

Graduates: 35

Undergraduates: 258

Student lecturer: Bina Diallo

Student singer: Carly D’Orlando

Honorary Degree Recipient: Bob Rivers, CEO, Eastern Bank

school of education

Ceremony held on Thursday, May 19 at 5 p.m.

Graduates: 250

Undergraduates: 82

Student speaker: Anngerline Ravelo-Burgos

Student singer: Olivia Perez

College of Health and Human Services

Ceremony held on Friday, May 20 at 2:30 p.m.

Graduates: 180

Undergraduates: 323

Student speaker: Joseph Tocci

Student singer: Carly D’Orlando

Honorary Degree Recipient: Pamela Scott, President and CEO, LVCC, Inc.

College of Arts and Sciences (am)

Ceremony held on Saturday, May 21 at 9:30 a.m.

Graduates: 64

Undergraduates: 321

Student speaker: Martha Cecilia Valentin

Student singer: Edmond Bertrand

Honorary Degree Recipient: Keith Knight, Cartoonist, Rapper, SSU ’90

College of Arts and Sciences (afternoon)

Ceremony on Saturday May 21 at 2:30 p.m.

Graduates: 58

Undergraduates: 311

Student Speaker: Jason Phillips

Student singer: Sarah Blacker


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