‘Community’ star to speak at Notre Dame College Prep graduation
BY LAURA PAVIN | Contributor May 9, 2013 6:44PM
Danny Pudi's yearbook picture from Notre Dame College Prep in Niles. The star of NBC's "Community" is scheduled to speak at the school's graduation later this month. | Contributed photo
Updated: June 17, 2013 6:17AM
“Community” star Danny Pudi will return to his alma mater on May 25 to deliver the Commencement Address for Notre Dame College Prep’s Class of 2013.
Pudi, a 1997 alumnus of Notre Dame, currently plays the role of Abed Nadir in the popular NBC comedy series about a group of students at a community college. Though his peers may now include Joel McHale, Ken Jeong and Chevy Chase, Pudi has said that he still talks regularly with his best friends from his days as a Don.
“[Danny] was a much-beloved student here, and he’s had great success in his acting career,” said Teresa Connelly, Director of Communications at Notre Dame. “We thought he would be very inspiring for the students and we’re looking forward to a wonderful commencement speech from him.”
Connelly said Notre Dame began inviting alumni to speak at graduations five years ago. Other notable speakers have included Chicago Blackhawks President John McDonough, class of ’71, and Chicago Bears Director of Business Development Brian McCaskey, ’78.
Last year, winner of CBS’s “Amazing Race” Ernie Halvorsen, ’00, spoke at the Alumni-Senior Breakfast. Patrick McCaskey, ’67, Director of Special Projects for the Bears, and Adam Jahns, ’01, sportswriter who covers the Bears for the Chicago Sun-Times, spoke this year.
Head Wrestling Coach and Assistant Athletic Director Augie Genovesi thought it would be both entertaining and eye-opening for students to hear Pudi speak this year.
“I said, ‘Let’s get a Danny Pudi in here to speak, someone that our kids can relate to,’” Genovesi said
Genovesi said he got to know Pudi through sports and his son, Anthony, who has been friends with the actor since he was dressing up as a cheerleader to lead the high school’s pep rallies.
“He was real comedian; you could see at that time he knew what he wanted to do, and he wasn’t scared to do it — drove Father Molinaro nuts,” Genovesi laughed. “He’s a great person, and he never lost who he was.”
Pudi graduated from Marquette University, where he was the recipient of the inaugural Chris Farley Scholarship. He studied improv at Second City Chicago’s Conservatory program and is a founding member of Siblings of Doctors, a trio of Indian-American comics that perform improv an sketch shows at festivals around the country.
He has credited Notre Dame for cultivating his comedic muscle by allowing him to be himself and helping him find ways to focus his energy.
Graduation is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 25. It will be held at the high school, at 7655 W. Dempster St., Niles, and will be broadcast live at highschoolcube.com.