Kelly McCreary announced as Scripps commencement speaker for the class of 2023

A drawing in a green color palette (referencing Scripps’ colors) of an empty podium. An audience of students in graduation caps looks on.
(Lucia Marquez-Uppman • The Student Life)

Actress and voting rights advocate Kelly McCreary will speak at the Scripps College commencement ceremony on May 13, according to President Suzanne Keen’s email to Scripps students on Thursday, Feb. 9.

McCreary is best known for her role as Dr. Maggie Pierce on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” She appeared on other popular television shows such as “Scandal” and “White Collar,” and performed on Broadway in 2008.

She is also a prominent voting rights advocate and has dedicated herself to organizations like Get Out The Vote and When We All Vote, Michelle Obama’s campaign to increase voter registration and participation. In 2015, she joined the civil rights legal organization Equal Justice Society’s Board of Directors. 

Senior class co-presidents Ishi Gupta SC ’23 and Elaine Yang SC ’23 selected McCreary from a list of candidates put together by the senior class and a committee that Gupta and Yang assembled to assist in the selection process. The pair began their selection process by conducting a poll within the senior class. 

“We had an event in Seal Court where we had people write on a board the types of people they would want to see and the traits they wanted to see in their speaker,” Yang said. 

After hearing back from a few candidates, McCreary’s name rose to the top of the list. Many students believe that may have been in part because of a student’s personal relationship with the actress.

“Part of our polling process was asking people if they had a connection,” said Gupta. “We had a connection to Kelly, and we looked into her, and we saw that it aligned with what students wanted as well and then we were able to get her.” 

McCreary graduated from Barnard College, another historically women’s college, which she has in common with Scripps students.

“That was something that I think also helped a lot with the process because when writing the letter we really want to focus on ‘oh, we’re also a historically women’s college,’” Yang said. “Her message and her goals aligned really well with the students of Scripps.” 

Gupta and Yang felt that McCreary values spoke well to Scripps’ curriculum. At Scripps, every student takes three core classes centered around a theme during the first three semesters.

“Our Core I theme was ‘truth,’ and [McCreary] really aligned with the values and things that we learned in Core,” Yang said to TSL via email. “She is someone who practices her truth every day and amplifies the voices of people who might be too afraid to do so.”

Jaela Alvarez SC ’23 also felt optimistic about McCreary’s contribution to the commencement.

“I knew who she was, obviously, because I am a really big ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ fan, so I was pretty hyped,” Alvarez said. “I think it’s really nice that we have a Black woman [as] a speaker. That’s great representation. I think it would be an important point for her to address.”

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