Emmy winner urges arts, sciences and communications graduates to seize every opportunity with ‘purpose, passion and perseverance’

May 12, 2024

Four graduates stand close together and smile for a photo on the quad

Marking the 10th anniversary of her own graduation, Emmy award-winner Jazzy Collins ’14 took a moment to reflect on the ups and downs of the personal journey that led her from Quinnipiac graduate to keynote speaker — and the lessons she learned along the way.

Article Highlights

  • Jazzy Collins ’14, casting director and founder of Forced Perspective, delivered the keynote address where she encouraged graduates to pursue their goals with grit and determination.
  • The university conferred degrees to 450 College of Arts and Sciences and 312 School of Communications graduates. 
“Ten years ago, I sat in the seats that you are sitting in now…I remember it vividly – I was optimistic but terrified about my future,” said Collins. “The one thing that never wavered was knowing that I had the potential to be whoever I wanted to be in an uncharted world filled with endless possibilities.”

During the Sunday morning ceremony, the university conferred degrees to 312 School of Communications graduates, including 184 Bachelor of Arts, 17 Bachelor of Fine Arts, 25 Master of Arts and 86 Master of Science degrees. Among the College of Arts and Sciences graduates, the university conferred 450 degrees to graduates: 231 Bachelor of Arts, 189 Bachelor of Science and 30 Master of Science degrees.

Jazzy Collins '14 delivers her keynote address during the Quinnipiac Commencement
Jazzy Collins ’14, casting director and founder of Forced Perspective, delivered the keynote address.

A talented casting director, Collins made history earlier this year when she became the first Black person to win the Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program for her work on “The Traitors,” which streams on Peacock. She also was nominated for an Emmy in 2022 for “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” on Amazon Prime. Among her many accomplishments, Collins has been at the forefront of the movement calling for more diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry. 

“It took persistence, and it took being OK with staying outside of my comfort zone,” said Collins. “It took me blindly believing that I’d be successful with no proof that I would be. When your gut tells you to do something, it’s your subconscious speaking. Listen to it. Trust it.”

Collins encouraged this year’s graduates to listen to their instincts and take risks as she spoke about the obstacles she had to overcome throughout her career as a casting director and founder of the production company Forced Perspective that she manages with her husband and fellow Bobcat, Shane Collins ’14. Their company specializes in content highlighting underrepresented directors and actors.

With an infectious energy that punctuated her remarks, Collins implored the graduates to believe in themselves and to choose their own path to success, whether through “tiny steps or giant leaps.” 

“I’m standing here today, reflecting on another milestone of speaking to the graduating class at the same university I attended. I’m reminded that this is just one chapter in a much longer novel,” said Collins. “The obstacles I’ve overcome, the broken barriers, and the uncertainty I’ve dealt with, have only propelled me to move forward. There are many more chapters to be written, and I’m eager to seize every opportunity that comes my way with purpose, passion and perseverance. Congratulations, Class of 2024, I can’t wait to see how you navigate in your uncharted world.”

The ceremony began with the national anthem performed by Hannah Jack ’24, and an enthusiastic welcome from Provost Debra Liebowitz. 

After wishing a warm Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers, aunts, grandmothers and inspiring women in the audience to a round of applause, President Judy Olian spoke directly to the graduates, reminding them that they will always have a home at Quinnipiac. 

“When I look at this class, I see the trailblazers of tomorrow who are prepared to embrace accelerated change, and to do more than that,” said Olian. “You will lead change in all kinds of fields, in the social sciences and STEM fields, in non-profits, in creative fields, in arts, media and entertainment, in the humanities and much more.” 

She encouraged the graduates to carry the Quinnipiac values with them into their careers and personal lives as they actively seek to bridge differences and cultural divides with an open, curious and positive attitude.   

“You’ll carry with you the life experiences of the last few years that have shaped you into the person you are today, that have exposed you to innovative ways of thinking, to different ideas, to different people and different cultures,” said Olian. “All of us at Quinnipiac look forward to following your adventures, bragging about you when you are successful…and we will ride your coattails of success and beam with pride as we cheer for you along the way. You are career-ready. You are life-ready. You are future-ready. Congratulations to the Bobcat Class of 2024.”

Kathryn Anne Reilly ’23, MS ’24, was selected to deliver the student address for the College of Arts & Sciences. A member of the women’s ice hockey team, Reilly earned her Master of Science in molecular and cell biology during Sunday’s ceremony. In her remarks, she reminded her classmates that graduation is not an ending, it’s the beginning of something new.

“Often, I hear people say that their college years are ‘the best years of their lives.’ But why should that be?” said Reilly. “As a group of kind, curious and driven students, we will go on to face more challenges and to find more success….Our time at Quinnipiac is only our starting point, and our future is bright.”

School of Communications class speaker Paige Marie Pezzella ’24 recounted the Class of 2024  shared experience of starting college the year of the pandemic, and how it fortified their bonds to each other as a community. Before receiving her bachelor’s degree in English and media studies, Pezzella asked her fellow classmates to continue to build on their shared Quinnipiac experience and work to avoid the use of labels that define and divide communities. 

“I still think it’s worth trying your best to be more than a label,” said Pezzella. “You are ambitious, creative, intelligent, emotional, loving, caring, alive. Be alive. Enjoy life. Enjoy the experience that Quinnipiac has given you, and what you’ve done with it.”

After asking the graduates to officially move their tassels to the left, Alumni Association Board Member Pam Martinez ’86 concluded the ceremony by welcoming the Class of 2024 as alumni, reminding the graduates that they are today, and always, a “Bobcat for life!”


Watch the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Communications Livestream

Graduates hold up their diplomas and cheer enthusiastically in front of the student center

Watch the Recording

Watch the livestream recording of the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Communications Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement.

Sunday, May 12, 10 a.m.

Download the program (PDF)

Order of Exercises

College of Arts & Sciences
School of Communications

10 a.m.

Trumpet Prelude and Processional

Pomp and Circumstance, Sir Edward Elgar

Call to Commencement

Debra J. Liebowitz, PhD

National Anthem

Hannah Lee Jack ’24


Judy D. Olian, PhD

Class of 2024 Student Speakers
  • College of Arts & Sciences: Kathryn Anne Reilly '23, MS '24

  • School of Communications: Paige Marie Pezzella '24

Introduction of Commencement Speaker

Frederick Staudmyer
Chair and Associate Professor of Film, Television and Media Arts

Commencement Address

Jazzy Collins ’14
Casting Director
Founder, Forced Perspective

Presentation of Candidates for Degrees and Awards

College of Arts and Sciences: Adam Roth, PhD, Dean
School of Communications: Terry Bloom, Interim Dean

Conferral of Degrees

Judy D. Olian

Alumni Welcome

Pam Martinez ’86
Alumni Association Board


Jazzy Collins ’14, CSA

Jazzy Collins '14 delivers her keynote address during the Quinnipiac Commencement

Casting Director

School of Communications and College of Arts and Sciences Ceremony | Sunday, May 12, 10 a.m.

Jazzy Collins, CSA, is a 2014 graduate of the Quinnipiac University School of Communications, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in film, television and media arts. An accomplished casting director, Collins made history in 2024 when she became the first Black person to win the Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program for her work on “The Traitors,” which streams on Peacock. She also was nominated for an Emmy in 2022 for “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” on Amazon Prime. Collins has been at the forefront of the movement calling for diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry. She has been published in Deadline, E! News, ET Canada, Women’s Health and beyond. Forced Perspective, the production company she runs with her husband and fellow Bobcat Shane Collins, produces content highlighting underrepresented directors and actors.

A Message from the President

President Judy Olian

Congratulations to the Class of 2024! You are well prepared to continue your life journey as professionals who will impact the world and the workplaces of tomorrow. We are confident you will apply your talent, passion and education to serve boldly as engaged citizens in your communities — and beyond. These qualities are at your core and will continue to propel you well into the future.

As graduates of Quinnipiac University, you have learned from a distinguished faculty and a committed staff who proudly stand beside you today. You also have learned valuable lessons from each other during this most transformative time in your lives. Please stay connected to our Bobcat family, visit us often, and draw upon the many friendships and mentorships you have formed here.

This day is shared with your families and friends, those who also deserve special recognition and appreciation for their contributions to your success. Enjoy this momentous achievement! Together, we are cheering for you, with utmost pride.

Judy D. Olian

Mace and Medallion

The mace — a symbol of authority — has antecedents in both Roman and Medieval history. The Roman mace (fasces) was carried by a lictor before the chief magistrate of the city, as well as before the legions. During the Middle Ages, the mace (mateola), a weapon of war, became first a symbol of victory and then a symbol of authority. The mace emblazoned with the Great Seal of England became a symbol of authority in Parliament by the end of the 13th century. It is this form of the mace that was the prototype of those symbols of authority, not only of legislative bodies, but also of cities and universities.

In 1246, following some 20 years of strife, the University of Paris was finally conceded the right to its own common seal. Since then, the use of the seal engraved on the mace has come to symbolize the authority of the academic community. In July 2000, Quinnipiac commissioned the noted sculptor Robert Meyer of Westport, Connecticut, to design and execute a new mace for Quinnipiac University. Cast in bronze, the mace incorporates elements of the university seal.

The medallion (medal of office), like the mace and the seal, is also a symbol of authority. It is possible that its roots may be traced back to the Roman “bulla” (a gold amulet of honor). The obverse of the medallion shows the seal of the office the wearer holds — in our case, the seal of the university. Not infrequently, the reverse would show the personal seal or coat of arms of the bearer. Since the High Middle Ages, the medallion has been worn by such officials as the chancellors of England, mayors of cities, and rectors of universities, and came to signify the high personal position such figures occupied in their respective governments. During the Renaissance, medallion design reached unique artistic heights, and in certain portraits the medallion was given particular prominence. The medallion is worn by the university’s president. The Quinnipiac medal showcases the university seal, sculpted in relief and cast in bronze.

Download the program (PDF)

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