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Actor Frank Whaley Inspires Grads At SHU's Inaugural Media Arts Graduation

Frank Whaley
Frank Whaley Photo Credit: Sacred Heart University

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University’s School of Communication and Media Arts awarded about 70 diplomas at its inaugural graduation ceremony on Aug. 20 featuring guest speaker Frank Whaley.

Graduating students gathered in the Frank and Marisa Martire Business and Communications Center, facing faculty, staff, family and friends. University administrators and faculty addressed them before bestowing diplomas.

Justin Liberman, co-program director of SCMA’s film and television master’s program introduced the event’s featured guest speaker, Frank Whaley. Whaley is an actor, writer and director whose 30-year career has landed him roles in dozens of films and TV shows, including "Pulp Fiction," "Ironweed," "Ray Donovan" and "Madoff."

He told the graduates he gave an enormous amount of thought about what he would say at the “monumental occasion.” He related that, as he pondered over his speech, he thought, “What would Frank Whaley have benefited from hearing at this point in his life?”

After jokes about tattoos, music and girlfriends, Whaley turned serious. “It’s fine to think you know everything, as long as you can acknowledge it is remotely possible that you do not know everything,” he advised.

Whaley told the graduates to make their own molds, and small regrets are okay. He urged them to be on time and don’t be afraid to be pushy. “Time is precious; don’t waste it,” he said. “It goes by really, really, really fast.”

Whaley also encouraged them to exercise their creative muscles every day by drawing, writing and taking photos. “Be confident. Even when you’re scared to death, be confident. Remember, you got this; you know this,” Whaley said.

After Whaley’s address, graduates received their diplomas. Amanda Sialiano, who earned her master’s degree in communication, concluded the ceremony with a final speech. She told her peers to cherish every moment and to push the limits whenever possible. “The moment we all worked so hard for is finally here,” she said.

At the ceremony’s conclusion, graduates took photos with family, friends and faculty and enjoyed refreshments. The ceremony “was really great,” said Viviane Batista, who also earned a master’s degree in communication. “I’m really proud of myself.”

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