Commencement Speaker Rebecca Sugar Debuted Original Song for Class of 2024

Renowned animator, director, singer, and songwriter Rebecca Sugar delivered an inspirational Commencement address and debuted an original song for graduates at Maine College of Art & Design's 113th graduation ceremony on Friday, May 10, at Portland's Merrill Auditorium.

As part of a collaborative search process between students and leadership for the 2024 Commencement Speaker, students in the Animation & Game Art program contacted Sugar via a video message, expressing their wish for her to speak at their commencement ceremony. Says Sugar, “I was so touched by the video message from the students at Maine College of Art & Design, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to support the class of 2024.”

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Rebecca Sugar speaking with faculty and students at a Q&A event in advance of Commencement. Photo by Annabelle Collette '22.

After initial remarks framing her message, Sugar's speech took the form of an original composition entitled "Love The Way It Feels." Through her thoughtful lyrics, Sugar encouraged graduates to stay true to their creative instincts and nurture the feelings they inspire, even when the act of creation seems insignificant or impossible. "I feel foolish handing out advice; I struggle with this daily. Searching for the well of inspiration—sometimes only one appears," Sugar sang. "When the competition's fierce and the fire's burning, it's up to us to tend it and remember, if we can, to love the way it feels—even when it isn't easy."

A video of the performance is available on MECA&D's YouTube page.

Sugar, best known as the creator of the groundbreaking animated series Steven Universe, paved the way for authentic LGBTQIA+ storytelling in animation. She imparted encouragement and advice to over 100 up-and-coming artists from across the country and worldwide. Sugar also received an Honorary Degree alongside Diane Garthwaite, Vice Chair of MECA&D's Board of Trustees.