Northwestern's 151st commencement looked to be a washout early in the day. But as the thunderstorms of June 19 passed and the skies finally brightened, graduates and guests enjoyed an abbreviated ceremony highlighted by internationally renowned musician Wynton Marsalis.

After joking about being "appropriate to the situation" -- many portions of the event were shortened as an evening storm rolled in -- Marsalis read from just the first and last pages of his prepared remarks.

Marsalis urged members of the class of 2009 to soak up the moment, reminding them of all they have accomplished in donning the cap and gown.

"This evening, graduates, you fulfill the promise of this university's legacy, justify the optimism of your ancestors, reward the investment of your parents, deepen a kinship with your peers and provide inspiration for younger generations who will benefit from your example," he said.

The Ryan Field crowd cheered loudest when Marsalis pulled out his trumpet and peformed “The Second Line," a traditional New Orleans tune inviting everyone to dance at the end of a concert. Professor Victor Goines, director of jazz studies, accompanied on saxophone.

Marsalis received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree. He was among seven distinguished individuals to receive an honorary degree.

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