The Colleges announce Commencement speakers

The Colleges announce commencement speakers

As the semester nears its end, the Claremont Colleges have selected and announced their commencement speakers.

The list includes Wes Moore, Guy Raz, Brian Schatz, Reshma Saujani, and Richard Tapia, each of whom will give their keynote address on the weekend of May 13.


Claremont McKenna College:

Wes Moore

Wes Moore, as CEO of BridgeEdU, has dedicated his life to closing the gaps in college completion and career opportunities and has been selected to deliver the commencement speech at Claremont McKenna College at the 70th CMC commencement. 

Mr. Moore is not only a notable CEO, but he is also a best-selling author, Rhodes Scholar and a combat officer veteran. His books, The Other Wes Moore and The Work: My search for a Life That Matters, share his experiences of self-sacrifice and service that led him to his path of self-discovery. 

Mr. Moore has also directed, hosted, and produced a variety of programs on PBS and on the Oprah Winfrey Network. As host of Beyond Belief with Oprah Winfrey and executive producer and host of Coming Back with Wes Moore, he delves into the story of his life as a combat veteran and the difficulties of other soldiers assimilating back into society. 

He will be speaking to a graduating class of 300 on May 13. His story will intend to move and serve others through his academic achievements, advocacy of veterans and personal self-discoveries. 


Pitzer College:

Guy Raz

Guy Raz will speak at the 2017 Pitzer College keynote speaker, host, co-creator and editorial director of National Public Radio programs. His two most popular programs, TED Radio Hour and How I Built This are heard by more that 14 million people globally every month. 

Instead of taking the $5,000 honorarium compensation, he has instead pledged to donate the entirety of the awards to “The Dream US,” which helps support academic scholarships for undocumented students.

“I would like to thank you all for your patience during the nomination, voting and negotiation process, which has now concluded after several months, said senior class president Chance Kawar. “I am looking forward to our commencement ceremony as it rapidly approaches, as well as all of the festivities that will take place leading up to that day!”


Pomona College:

Brian Schatz

American politician and US Senator of Hawaii Brian Schatz has been selected to deliver to main commencement address at Pomona College’s 124th commencement on Sunday, May 14.

Mr. Schatz, re-elected as US senator for the full six-year term, currently serves in four senate committees: appropriations; banking; housing and urban affairs; commerce; science and technology; and Indian affairs. He has dedicated his career to public service,environmental protection advocacy and nonprofit social sectors. 

Before his appointment as senator, he worked at the chief executive officer of Helping Hands Hawaii, a social service organization that helps individuals and families overcome financial and personal growth obstacles. 

Mr. Schatz has worked as an environmental advocate, introducing legislation to mitigate climate change effects and shift the nation’s policy towards cleaner energy production. 

As a Pomona College alumni, earning his BA in philosophy, he will return once again to deliver the address before an estimated 390 students.


Scripps College:

Reshma Saujani

Reshma Saujani, CEO and founder of Girls Who Code, will present her address at Scripps College’s 87th commencement on May 13.

Beginning her career as an attorney and activist, Ms. Saujani entered the political atmosphere in 2010 as the first Indian-American woman to run for U.S. Congress. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Yale Law School. 

As founder of Girls Who Code, she has helped equip young women with technical literacy and computing skills to close the gender gap in science and technology. She is also the author of the book, Women Who Don’t Wait in Line, where she advocates for new female leadership through embracing risk-taking and promoting one’s own self-discovery through exploration.

“I am delighted to speak to Scripps College class of 2017 students who stand at the intersection of liberal arts and technology, and who have demonstrated their courage as change-makers on campus, in their communities, and in their respective paths in life as they graduate,” Ms. Saujani said. 

She has been named of of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York by the New York Daily News, and Fortune’s 40 under 40. She was selected by the student body at Scripps and intends to speak on woman empowerment at the commencement.


Harvey Mudd College:

Richard Tapia

Harvey Mudd College’s 59th commencement speaker, Richard Tapia, leading researcher in the computational and mathematical sciences and national leader in diversity and inclusion educational outreach, will deliver the keynote address on May 14.

Mr. Tapia is a professor and mathematician in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University.  Internationally, he is known as a prolific researcher and a leader and director in the Rice’s Center for Excellence and Equity in Education. 

Mr. Tapia was a first-generation college student, receiving his BA, MA and PhD in mathematics from UCLA and the son of two teenage parents immigrating from Mexico in search of economic and educational opportunities.  He has taught at the University of Wisconsin prior to becoming a staff at Rice, and is an adjunct faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Houston.

As the first Hispanic elected to the National Academy of Engineering, he has received many honors including the lifetime mentor award from the American Association for Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation’s inaugural Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

—Jenifer Hanki

Next week we’ll provide write-ups on the speakers for the graduate schools.


[Editor’s note: Jenifer Hanki is currently a freshman at Claremont McKenna College. She is pursuing a dual major in international relations at CMC and art at Scripps College. She writes and designs for the Claremont Radius, a student-run political discourse publication, and the Asia Experts Forum, a CMC-sponsored forum that specializes in Asia-relations. In her free time, Ms. Hanki said she “loves freelance photography, painting, sculpting, competing in Model UN, traveling, dancing and spending time with her friends from the other five Claremont Colleges.” —KD]


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