Trailblazing journalist and television host Meredith Vieira delivered Boston University’s 142nd Commencement address Sunday with a little help from a finned friend.
Vieira—whose address touched on through her education at Tufts, her humble start at WEEI and later WJAR in her native Providence, and desire to put her family first, to the chagrin of network execs and some feminists—ended her remarks with an unorthodox reflection on nonconformance.
“Don’t be the person who puts on a suit and takes off their glasses like this mid-sentence because he thinks it makes him look smart. Trust me, unless you’re the incredible Ed Bradley—CBS correspondent Ed Bradley, who was really cool—or maybe a TV lawyer, it looks good for them, but everyone else, it’s just affect. Stay away from affects. Better yet, the Left Shark,” Vieira said.
The grads appeared confused at first, before Left Shark, who went viral for his role in Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime show earlier this year, came flopping down the rostrum toward Vieira.
“Remember last Super Bowl when the Patriots won? Yeah well, you may be thinking of Tom Brady’s deflated balls right now, but I’m thinking of Katy Perry’s halftime performance,” Vieira said. “She was on-stage dancing with two sharks. The shark on the right knew every dance move and performed perfectly. But it was the Left Shark, the one who went rogue and danced to his own crazy beat, who stole the show. So don’t ever be a conformist for convenience’s sake, or as Mark Twain put it, ‘Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.'”
“Be the Left Shark.”
In stark contrast to then Gov. Deval Patrick’s admonishment to students to get off their smartphones last year, Vieira’s point seemed to strike a chord.
— Taylor Walker (@TaylorReports) May 17, 2015
BU commencement speaker @meredithvieira: "Always be left shark"
— Rosa Moriello (@rosamoriello) May 17, 2015
Vieira also received an honorary degree, along with BU trustee Allen Questrom and his wife Kelli Questrom, jazz legend and Newport Jazz Festival founder George Wein, and NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks.
You can watch Vieira’s entire address below.
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