Connect with us

Higher Education

Spelman College Announces 136th Commencement Speaker, Valedictorians and Honorary Degree Recipients

Spelman College announced today, Nikole Hannah-Jonesthe Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the 1619 Project and a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, will deliver the keynote address to graduates during Spelman College’s 2023 Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 21, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. She will also receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. The ceremony will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, GA.

Hannah-Jones has spent her career investigating racial inequality and injustice, and her reporting has earned her the MacArthur Fellowship, known as the Genius grant, a Peabody Award, two George Polk Awards and the National Magazine Award three times.

She also serves as the Knight Chair of Race and Journalism at Howard University, where she founded the Center for Journalism & Democracy. Hannah-Jones is also the co-founder of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, which seeks to increase the number of investigative reporters and editors of color, and in 2022 she opened the 1619 Freedom School, a free, afterschool literacy program in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa. Hannah-Jones holds a Master of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned her Bachelor of Arts in History and African American studies from the University of Notre Dame.

Pulitzer Prize-winning creator and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones

This year’s graduating class of 468 students, receiving 294 Bachelor of Arts and 174 Bachelor of Science degrees, will include four valedictorians, a salutatorian and many high-achieving graduates from across the country.

Class of 2023 Co-Valedictorians and Salutatorian and Majors
Maya Blasingame, Co-Valedictorian, Biology
Amaia Calhoun, Co-Valedictorian, Economics
Sydney DuPree, Co-Valedictorian, Theatre and Performance
Chandler Nutall, Co-Valedictorian, English
Maya Phillips, Salutatorian, Sociology

Class of 2023 Top Ten Scholars
Maya Blasingame, Co-Valedictorian, Biology
Amaia Calhoun, Co-Valedictorian, Economics
Sydney DuPree, Co-Valedictorian, Theatre and Performance
Chandler Nutall, Co-Valedictorian, English
Maya Phillips, Salutatorian, Sociology
Annaya Baynes, English
Kayla Bowman, Psychology
Alexandra Jenkins, Economics
Jesseca Lindsey, Spanish
Adrianna Richardson, Biology

2023 Honorary Degree
Tracee Ellis Ross, award-winning actress and producer, and CEO and Founder of PATTERN Beauty will receive an honorary degree, Doctor of Fine Arts. Ross is an award-winning actress and producer best known for her roles in ABC’s award-winning comedy series BLACK-ISH and GIRLFRIENDS. For her role as Rainbow Johnson in BLACK-ISH, as a comedic leading actress, Ross won the Golden Globe Award in 2017 as well as nine NAACP Image Awards.
She was nominated for five Emmys and two Critics Choice Awards. Ross is the CEO and Founder of PATTERN Beauty, a award-winning haircare brand she launched in 2019 for the curly, coily and tight textured masses.

Ross is executive producer and narrator of THE HAIR TALES, a docuseries about Black women, beauty and identity through the distinctive lens of Black hair. It debuted on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s cable channel and on Hulu in October 2022. Ross recently produced a ten-episode podcast, I Am America, which aims to break through the noise during this divided time in our country in an effort to create space and to heal. Ross will star in and executive produce the animated MTV Entertainment Studios film JODIE, a spinoff of MTV’s iconic DARIA franchise.

Award-winning actress, CEO and producer Tracee Ellis Ross

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country’s leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by the U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 51 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 19 for undergraduate teaching, No. 5 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 16th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal has ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and collaborations have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones.

SOURCE Spelman College

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *