5Cs Present Accomplished, Diverse Lineup of 2017 Commencement Speakers
Pomona College: Senator Brian Schatz PO '94
Pomona College has announced Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) as the keynote speaker for 2017 commencement this past week in a press release on the college’s website. Schatz PO '94 is the first Pomona alumnus to become a member of the United States Senate.
“Senator Schatz has dedicated his career to public service, non-profit leadership, climate change action, and environmental legislation," executive assistant to the president of Pomona Stephanie Navarro wrote to in an email to TSL. "He is also recognized as a rising progressive leader in the United States Senate."
Navarro spoke to Schatz’s history advocating for the prevention of climate change, a topic raised in the senator's visit to Pomona last year.
“Pomona College wrestles with environmental problems as a community, and is dedicated to living and teaching sustainable philosophies and practices," she said. "When Senator Schatz visited campus in April 2016, he told his audience that climate change is the issue of this generation, and urged them to take action, in whatever form that is, to fix our planet."
Schatz’s selection has been received positively by the Pomona community, who are familiar with Schatz and his work. Tommy Erb PO ’18 said Schatz’s work sets an example for Pomona graduates.
"Senator Schatz is an outspoken and progressive leader in the United States Senate," Erb. "He represents the best of Pomona College and will be a perfect farewell to the impressive class of 2017."
Claremont Mckenna College: Wes Moore
Claremont McKenna College announced last week that Wes Moore will deliver the school’s 2017 commencement keynote address. The school’s 70th commencement is scheduled for Saturday, May 13.
Wes Moore is the CEO of BridgeEdU, a national initiative focused on closing gaps in college completion and career opportunities. He is also a decorated Army combat veteran, Rhodes Scholar, best-selling author, and holds a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. Moore has directed a PBS documentary and is a host of "Beyond Belief," a show on the Oprah network.
Student representatives from CMC were pleased with the announcement.
“Beyond his exceptional accomplishments, Mr. Moore connects purpose and meaning with how we face and overcome our challenges," CMC Senior Class President Cole Mora ’17 wrote in an email to TSL. "I cannot thank my classmates enough for their help with this process, and we cannot wait to have him join us for commencement.”
CMC President Hiram Chodosh is also enthused by Moore's selection.
“Wes Moore’s story moves us to serve others,” Chodosh wrote in an email to TSL. “His journey — from Baltimore to Oxford, from Afghanistan to advocacy for vets, from his own academic achievements to building bridges of opportunity for others — cuts an exemplary, inspiring path for our outstanding graduates and our entire CMC community.”
Chodosh also thinks Moore's ideals are a good fit for CMC.
"We sought a commencement speaker who would inspire our graduates and community," he wrote. "Wes Moore struck powerful themes through his own inspiring story and the stories he tells: the power of education, the courage of his combat experience, his creativity as an innovator, and his achievements as an author. These are themes that speak to our CMC history and mission and the values of the class of 2017.”
Harvey Mudd College: Richard Tapia
Richard Tapia, an acclaimed mathematician and advocate for marginalized students in the sciences, will give the keynote address at Harvey Mudd College’s 59th commencement ceremony on May 14, according to a press release from the college.
Tapia teaches at Rice University, where he is the director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education, which aims “to empower motivated, academically successful, underrepresented students, who are passionate about their education” by “open[ing] Rice University and higher educational experiences to emerging scholars deserving of academic opportunity,” according to a statement on its website.
A son of Mexican immigrants, Tapia attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and was the first person in his family to go to college.
He has directed or co-directed more underrepresented minority and women Ph.D. students in STEM fields than any other advisor in the United States. His work on diversity has garnered him numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science.
Tapia is also known for his groundbreaking research on mathematical optimization techniques.
Pitzer College: Guy Raz
Pitzer College announced Thursday that acclaimed National Public Radio journalist Guy Raz will be the commencement speaker for the class of 2017. Raz is currently the host and editorial director for TED Radio Hour, a co-production of TED and NPR, and has worked at NPR for 20 years.
“Guy Raz is an incredible journalist and radio host who has spent his career keeping the public informed and engaged by covering critical issues across the world," Pitzer Senior Class President Chance Kawar PZ ’17 said. "He has embraced values such as intercultural understanding and interdisciplinary learning throughout his career by creating the kind of thought-provoking content for which National Public Radio is well-known and beloved.”
Pitzer keynote speakers are usually given some kind of financial reward, which Raz has decided to donate to TheDream.US Foundation, which helps undocumented students obtain scholarships to college.
“The fact that Mr. Raz has pledged to donate his honorarium money to support undocumented students demonstrates his commitment to an issue which Pitzer students care deeply about,” Kawar said.
Read a Q&A with Raz here.
Scripps College: Reshma Saujani
TSL's coverage detailing Saujani's choice as commencement speaker can be found here.