Four of 5Cs Announce Commencement Speakers


During the past several months, Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, and Harvey Mudd College have announced noted experts as the speakers for their 2018 commencement ceremonies. Pitzer is “still finalizing the details” and “simply [does] not have the contract signed yet,” Melissa M. Burrows, executive assistant to the Pitzer vice president of student affairs, wrote in an email to TSL.

Pomona College

Legal scholar Kenji Yoshino and political theorist Danielle Allen will speak at Pomona College’s 125th commencement May 13.

Yoshino is a professor at New York University Law. He previously taught at Yale Law School and served as deputy dean. Allen is head of Harvard University’s ethics department, where she leads a research lab.

Yoshino specializes in explorations of constitutional law, while Allen studies classical democratic theory, sociology, and historical political thought as lenses to view modern issues of citizenship.

Allen “speaks to the breadth of the liberal arts and has shown a deep commitment to bring tests of ethics and equity to questions ranging from the foundations of democracy, to incarceration, drug policy, the economy, and education,” Pomona President G. Gabrielle Starr wrote in an email to TSL.

Yoshino’s book “Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights,” was Pomona’s first-year book selection in 2009.

Both Yoshino and Allen are widely published. Yoshino contributes to the New York Times Magazine’s “The Ethicist” Column and The Stanford Law Review as well as appears frequently on news networks. Allen is a contributor to The Washington Post and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among other accolades.

“Part of Pomona College’s mission is to prepare students to turn transformative ideas into reality,” Starr said. “Prof. Allen and Prof. Yoshino are wonderful examples of what can happen when you link knowledge, curiosity and a passion for justice.”

Scripps College

Civil rights activist and award-winning journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault will be the featured speaker at Scripps’ 88th annual commencement May 12.

Born in South Carolina, Hunter-Gault grew up in Atlanta during the Jim Crow Era. As a high schooler, she was passionate about journalism and applied to the University of Georgia at Athens, which had a well-known journalism program.

The university denied Hunter-Gault’s 1959 application on the grounds of “limited space,” but Hunter-Gault sued the university for racial discrimination and won in 1961, becoming the first black woman to enroll there.

Upon graduation, Hunter-Gault became an acclaimed journalist and author. She has worked for The New Yorker, The New York Times, PBS, NPR, and CNN.

Hunter-Gault was one of the first reporters to interview Nelson Mandela following his release from prison in 1990, according to PBS.

For her Africa coverage, Hunter-Gault won two Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards.

Hunter-Gault also authored four books about the black experience, including her autobiography “In My Place,” and has been the recipient of numerous accolades, including a 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from The Washington Press Club Foundation. She was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.

“She so fittingly exemplifies the mission of Scripps College through her lifelong work and efforts to push boundaries, not settle for the status quo, and expand access and opportunities for others,” Scripps President Lara Tiedens wrote in an email to TSL.

Claremont McKenna College

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, will speak at CMC’s 71st annual commencement May 12.

A native of Northern France, Lagarde has been described by The Guardian as “upstanding and elegant,” with “a precise intellect and unnerving stamina,” and was ranked by Forbes as the fifth most powerful woman in the world in 2014.

After attending law school in Paris and a earning a master’s degree in political science, Lagarde moved to the U.S. in 1981 to join law firm Baker and McKenzie, and became the firm’s first female chair 18 years later.

Following her law career, Lagarde was appointed France’s minister of foreign trade in 2005, and, in 2007, became the first woman in any of the G8 countries (a political group of eight of industrialized democracies) to serve as minister of finance and economy.

In 2011, Lagarde became the first female director of the International Monetary Fund, and was re-elected for a second five-year term in 2016.

In 2016, Lagarde was found guilty of negligence — but not punished — by a French court for not appealing a decision that used taxpayer money to pay off business magnate Bernard Tapie while she was minister in 2008, according to The New York Times.

Lagarde is committed to getting more women in the workforce to support economic growth.

“Inequality is sexist,” she told an institute at Wellesley College, according to CNN.

Lagarde has also advocated for continued personal improvement and hard work.

“Success is never complete. It’s an endless combat,” she said in an interview with a French newspaper cited by The Guardian. “Each morning one must put one’s capacities to the test once again.”

Harvey Mudd College

Pioneering astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala will speak at at HMC’s 60th annual commencement ceremony May 13.

Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Mavalvala moved to the U.S. in 1986 to attend Wellesley College, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy. She later completed her doctorate in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she is currently a physics professor.

Mavalvala’s research centers on detecting gravitational waves and quantum measurement science. In 2016, she was part of a group of scientists that discovered ripples in the fabric of spacetime — the result of two black holes colliding — the first evidence suggesting the existence of the gravitational waves Albert Einstein predicted almost a century ago.

Mavalvala is also celebrated for breaking barriers as a female LGBTQIA+ scientist of South Asian descent. “I am just myself,” Mavalvala said in an interview with NewNowNext, “but out of that comes something positive.”

Mavalvala continues to conduct pioneering experiments and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2017. She has high hopes for the next generation of scientists.

“I want them to live a life of integrity, and be kind”, she told Massive Science. “When I talk to my students, nothing makes me more proud than when they discover something in their labs. But I am proudest of them when they act with integrity, collaborate, and are kind, dignified citizens.”

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