Colleges mark commencement with notable speakers

The Claremont Colleges will celebrate commencement next weekend, May 16 and 17. Celebrations and events are planned by all the Colleges the week prior to graduation. Local residents and shop owners should prepare for an influx of visitors to the Village throughout the week.

Claremont Graduate University

Mukesh Aghi, president of the

US-India Business Council

CGU will hold commencement on Saturday, May 16 at 9 a.m. in Mudd Quadrangle on the southeast corner of Tenth Street and Dartmouth Avenue. The ceremony will be live streamed

Mukesh Aghi, president of the US-India Business Council will be the featured speaker. A CGU alumnus (PhD, International Relations 1985), Mr. Aghi’s career includes positions leading the international growth and operations of prestigious American and Indian technology companies.

Prior to serving as president of the US-India Business Council, Mr. Aghi was chief executive and board member at L&T Infotech. Earlier he served at Steria, Inc.-India as CEO, Asia-Pacific and Global Executive Sales Director.

Mr. Aghi holds an advanced management diploma from Harvard Business School, an MBA in international marketing from Andrews University, Michigan and a bachelor’s in business administration from the Middle East College, Beirut, Lebanon.


Pitzer College

Janet Mock, writer, advocate for trans women’s rights

Pitzer’s 51st annual commencement will take place Saturday, May 16 at 10 a.m. at the Glass Commencement Plaza, located at Mills Avenue and Ninth Street.

This year, the Pitzer Class of 2015 has selected Janet Mock as the keynote speaker. Ms. Mock is a writer, cultural commentator, advocate for trans women’s rights and the New York Times best-selling author of Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. She currently hosts the weekly culture show So Popular! on MSNBC’s Shift network.

Ms. Mock first told her story of growing up as a trans girl in 2011 in Marie Claire, where she now serves as a contributing editor, writing articles about pop culture, gender, race and representation and is a board member at the Arcus Foundation.

A native of Honolulu, Ms. Mock attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and earned her master’s in journalism from New York University. She lives and writes in New York City.

The ceremony will be streamed live on the Pitzer website at 9:45 a.m. A link will be posted at the morning of the ceremony.


Keck Graduate Institue

Dr. Randy Schekman, professor in the department of molecular and cell biology, UC Berkeley

Commencement at KGI will be held on Saturday, May 16 at 11 am. The event will be live streamed at

Dr. Randy Schekman is a professor in the department of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

As a graduate student at Stanford University, Dr. Schekman studied the enzymology of DNA replication with Arthur Kornberg. His current interest in cellular membranes developed during a postdoctoral period with SJ Singer at UC San Diego.

Among the honors he has earned are the Gairdner International Award, the Albert Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research in 2002, and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2013—which he shared with James Rothman of Yale University and Thomas Südhof of the Stanford School of Medicine—for their discoveries of the mechanism regulating vesicle traffic, a major cellular transport system.

The microscope that he bought from money earned from odd jobs as a junior high school student now resides in the Nobel Museum in Stockholm. 


Claremont McKenna College

Azar Nafisi, Iranian-American bestselling author

CMC will host its 68th annual commencement ceremont on Saturday, May 16 at 2 p.m. at the Pritzlaff Field

The keynote speaker is Azar Nafisi, author of the national bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which electrified its readers with a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students.

The book has spent over 117 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Reading Lolita in Tehran has been translated in 32 languages, and has won diverse literary awards. In 2009, Reading Lolita in Tehran was named as one of the “100 Best Books of the Decade” by The London Times.

Ms. Nafisi is currently the director of Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, where she is a professor of aesthetics, culture and literature, and teaches courses on the relation between culture and politics.

Ms. Nafisi has written for The New York Times, Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Her cover story, “The Veiled Threat: The Iranian Revolution’s Woman Problem,” published in The New Republic (February 22, 1999) has been reprinted into several languages. She lives in Washington, DC.


Scripps College

Sara Kay, spoken word poet

Scripps College will have award-winning spoken word poet Sarah Kay deliver the college’s commencement address on Saturday, May 16 at 5 p.m. on the Elm Tree Lawn.

Ms. Kay is the founder of Project VOICE, a group that uses spoken word poetry to entertain, educate and encourage young people. Through award-winning performances and innovative workshops, Project VOICE seeks to promote empowerment, literacy and empathy in classrooms and communities around the globe.

A featured poet on the sixth season of HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam, Ms. Kay has been invited to share her work on diverse stages. In all, she has shared works of her spoken word poetry on six continents.

Her 2011 TED conference talk, “If I Should Have a Daughter,” has been viewed more than seven million times online. She is the author of the best-selling book, No Matter the Wreckage, a collection of her poetry.


Pomona College

France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation

Pomona College will hold its 122nd commencement exercises on Sunday, May 17 at 10 a.m. on Marston Quadrangle, located between Fourth and Sixth Streets.

France A. Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and former chancellor of UC Riverside, will serve as the principal speaker.

Ms. Córdova was sworn in as director of the NSF in March 2014 and leads the only government agency charged with advancing all fields of scientific discovery, technological innovation and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

NASA’s chief scientist from 1993 to 1996, Ms. Córdova was a deputy group leader in the Earth and Space Sciences division at Los Alamos National Laboratory (1988-89) and a longtime staff scientist at Los Alamos (1979-89). Her scientific contributions have been in the areas of observational and experimental astrophysics, multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma ray sources and space-borne instrumentation.

Ms. Córdova is a recipient of NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, and was recognized as a Kilby Laureate in 2000.


Harvey Mudd College

Mary D. Nichols, California Air Resources Board Chairman

California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols will offer the keynote address at Harvey Mudd College’s 57th commencement ceremony Sunday, May 17 at 1:30 p.m. on the Harvey S. Mudd Quadrangle.

A 2012 Dan Rather Reports story dubbed Ms. Nichols the “Queen of Green.”

Ms. Nichols has held the ARB post since 2007. She has devoted her entire career in public and nonprofit service to advocating for the environment and public health. In addition to her work at the Air Board, she has served as assistant administrator for the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Air and Radiation program under President Clinton, Secretary for California’s Resources Agency from 1999 to 2003 and director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her priorities as chairman include moving ahead on the state’s landmark climate change program (AB 32), steering the board through numerous efforts to curb diesel pollution at ports and continuing to pass regulations aimed at providing cleaner air for southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. She values innovation, partnerships and common-sense approaches to addressing the state’s air issues.

The California Air Resources Board is a part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, an organization that reports directly to the Governor’s Office in the Executive Branch of California state government. .


Claremont School of Theology

Joseph Lyons, Claremont City

Council member, former mayor

The Claremont School of Theology community will gather on the Chapel Lawn at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19 for a celebration of commencement. 

Graduates will be addressed by Claremont City Council member and former mayor Joseph Lyons. 

Two members of the graduating class will address their classmates—Meghann Robern, M.Div. and César Domínguez, MA with a concentration in Islamic Studies and Leadership.  Prayers will be offered on behalf of all graduates by CST President Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan and Jihad Turk, president of Bayan Claremont.


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