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Even the rain that descended on Franklin Field last Monday couldn't stop the approximately 5,000 graduating Penn students from celebrating during the morning's commencement.

Although the graduates attended separate ceremonies for their individual schools throughout Sunday and Monday, they all came together one last time as the Class of 2000 for the University's 244th commencement ceremony.

And to give the graduates final words of advice before they left Penn behind, acclaimed poet and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney delivered the keynote address at Monday's ceremony.

Heaney's speech focused on the challenges introduced by globalization and the "end of homogenous, hermetically sealed society."

"The Amish carriage now shares the road with the Mercedes car," the Irish poet said to illustrate the breakdown of barriers.

"The world we live in is of, of globalization," he added.

Heaney continually reminded the graduates and the approximately 15,000 friends and family members in attendance to remember the lack of boundaries in today's world.

"Boundaries are important, but the open sky is a condition that should never be forgotten," he advised graduates.

And, even when rain began to fall during Heaney's speech, the graduates kept the mood light by bouncing tri-colored beach balls to and from one another, with the field becoming speckled with a bright array of colorful umbrellas as the group tried to stay dry.

University Provost Robert Barchi -- who introduced Heaney -- called the poet a "rare genius that has critical acclaim while maintaining popular favor."

Heaney, the 1995 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at Monday's ceremony.

Other honorary degree recipients included former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, a visiting professor at Penn this semester and the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Wynton Marsalis, the popular Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz musician, was given an honorary Doctor of Music degree.

The University also presented physicist John Bahcall, anthropologist Mary Douglas and law professor Ronald Dworkin with honorary degrees.

University President Judith Rodin addressed the assembled graduates after University Chaplain William Gipson delivered the invocation at the beginning of the ceremony.

"We have all changed because so many of you have been amazing and original and faithful to this community," Rodin told the Class of 2000.

For many graduates, the highlight of commencement came when the deans of each of Penn's 12 schools came to the podium to recognize their graduates.

Pumping their fists in the air and waving to family members in the stands, graduates then got the chance to stand up with their school and celebrate years of hard work, with undergraduates from the School of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School drowning out the speakers on stage with their cheers.

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