MAHWAH, N.J. – The night before Ramapo College of New Jersey’s commencement, the Mahwah school announced its scheduled speaker, “This Is Us” star Ron Cephas Jones, would not physically make it to the ceremony.
But the Paterson native and 1978 Ramapo graduate addressed 2017 graduates Thursday morning in another way: via an audio clip played during a slideshow.
“I would also like to apologize to the staff, and to you, to the alumni, for not being able to be there today. Through a series of unfortunate events with airline security and my health I was unable to make it. I’m extremely disappointed because I wanted to surely be there with you all,” Jones said in his recorded speech.
“But that is the beginning of I guess what I want to say to all of you is that a lot of times that’s what life does. It throws you a curveball. And, I just decided to be honest and upfront – confront the situation as best I can, but most of all to be honest about it. And to learn how to take care of yourself,” he said.
Jones spoke about his time in the theater program at Ramapo, and its influence on his life, as well as his journey to becoming a well-known actor.
He said in the years since he left Ramapo, he spent time driving a bus, working on apartment renovations, as a gas attendant, and waiter, and persevered to keep doing theater.
“Just recently over the last three years all of those things have come to pass. And now I find myself on one of the most popular shows ‘This Is Us’ as well as doing ‘Luke Cage’, ‘Hero for Hire’, ‘Mr. Robot, ‘The Getdown’ on Netflix, and several others,” he said.
“I guess my [advice is] always know that when you fall, you can get up. Know that when things get hard there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he told graduates.
Jones -- who plays William on the hit NBC drama "This Is Us" -- said he hoped to come back to Ramapo to do some lecturing and speaking programs.
During the ceremony at the Prudential Center Thursday morning, 1,625 graduates received their degrees, which is Ramapo’s largest ever graduating class, according to the college.