Academic Ceremonies - Commencement
Commencement 2012 Speaker
Doctor of Letters
Commencement Speaker Honorary Degree Recipient
After leaving the University of Vermont, alumna Cyma Zarghami took a position at Nickelodeon in 1985, a then start-up children's television network. Beginning at an entry-level position, Zarghami gradually rose through the company ranks. She was named president in 2006 and now oversees all creative and business operations for Viacom’s Nickelodeon Group, which has been the number one cable television network in the United States for 17 straight years, and has expanded to serve more than 350 million people in over 25 languages around the world.
Born in Iran and raised in New Jersey, Zarghami attended Dwight Englewood preparatory school in Englewood, NJ and came to UVM in 1980 to study education. Although she ultimately decided teaching was not a good fit for her and switched to a major in English, she says she was drawn to Nickelodeon in large part because of the young audience it was serving. Nickelodeon, whose early shows included “Pinwheel” and “You Can't Do That on Television,” was meeting a need for children that other networks were not.
Through her rise at Nickelodeon, Zarghami occupied roles in scheduling and marketing before managing the network, and in 2006, becoming president of Nickelodeon. In that role, Zarghami has led a reinvention of the company's holdings, including re-launching Nick Jr. (previously Noggin) and Teen Nick (previously The N). In a 2010 article about her work at Nickelodeon, The New York Times called her "one of the top executive women in the media industry." Under her leadership, Nickelodeon has achieved its 17th consecutive year as the number one network for children.
Although Zarghami left UVM just three credits shy of completing her English major, she returned to campus in 2000 to speak at the College of Education and Social Services' commencement ceremony, where she was also awarded a diploma. She lives in New York City with her husband and three sons.