Ten 2015 Minority Serving Institution Commencement Speakers

It is that time of year when graduates from all over the nation are donning regalia, walking across stages, shaking hands, receiving diplomas, and preparing to walk into their future. This is also the time where commencement speakers will share their words of wisdom with the graduating class, hoping to move and inspire them as they make the transition to the next phase of their lives. This Monday Morning MSI Line Up highlights some of the commencement speakers that will be taking or have already taken the stage at MSI graduations this commencement season. Congrats Class of 2015!!!

Denzel Washington1.) Dillard University – Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington first studied journalism at Fordham University but then discovered an interest in acting. He made his feature film debut in the comedy A Carbon Copy (1981) and was cast on the hit TV medical drama St. Elsewhere (1982-8). He went on to appear in several blockbuster movies, including Man on Fire, Malcom X, The Book of Eli and American Gangster, and won Oscars for his roles in Glory and Training Day. Here are excerpts from his commencement speech.

Sheryl Underwood2.) Benedict College – Sheryl Underwood

Comedian and actress who joined the popular CBS daytime show The Talk as a panelist in its second season. She hosts The Sheryl Underwood Show on Jamie Foxx’s Sirius Satellite Radio channel, The Foxxhole. She attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Masters Degrees in Media Management and Mass Communication from Governors State University. She made her comedy breakthrough in the 1989 Miller Lite Comedy Search. She is also a lifetime member of Zeta Phi Beta, Sorority, Inc. Underwood first served as president of the sorority’s Omicron Rho Zeta chapter, and was later named as the National Chair of Honorary Members, and later as the National Executive Board Chair. Underwood is also a member of the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP and founded the African-American Female Comedian Association.

Michelle Obama3.) Tuskegee University – First Lady Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is a lawyer, Chicago city administrator and community outreach worker, as well as the wife of U.S. President Barack Obama and the 44th first lady. She attended Princeton University, graduating cum laude in 1985, and went on to earn a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1988. Following law school, she worked at a Chicago law firm. As first lady, she has focused her attention on current social issues. Listen to First Lady Michelle Obama’s commencement speech here.

Eboo Patel4.) University of La Verne – Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel is the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith Youth Core is since its incorporation in 2002, Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) has worked on five continents and with over 200 college and university campuses, trained thousands in the principles of interfaith leadership, and reached millions through the media. IFYC has worked with partners including the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the White House, and the Office of Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan. Eboo’s core belief is that religion is a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. He’s inspired to build this bridge by his faith as a Muslim, his Indian heritage, and his American citizenship. He has spoken about this vision at places like the TED conference, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, as well as college and university campuses across the country. He has written two books about interfaith cooperation, Acts of Faith and Sacred Ground.
Juan Martinez5.) Fresno Pacific University – Juan Martinez, Ph.D.

Juan Martínez is vice provost and professor of Hispanic studies and pastoral leadership. Since coming to Fuller in 2001, Dr. Martínez has also served as associate provost for diversity and international programs and as director of the Center for the Study of Hispanic Church and Community. Among other topics, his current research focuses on the history of Latino Protestantism, Latino Protestant identity, ministry in Latino Protestant churches, Latino and Latin American Anabaptists, and transnational mission among US Latinos.

Hugo Morales6.) California State University – Monterrey Bay- Hugo Morales
Mr. Morales is the Executive Director and co-founder of Radio Bilingüe (1976), the national Latino public radio network, and a pioneer and advocate for minority controlled public media. Mr. Morales is a Mixtec Indian from rural Oaxaca, Mexico. Radio Bilingüe has also conducted in-depth research for the Los Angeles area on the potential for a cross-generational bilingual media service as well as a cross-ethnic media platform. Among Mr. Morales’ recognitions have been a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He serves on several foundation boards including The San Francisco Foundation and Rosenberg Foundation. Mr. Morales earned a bachelors degree from Harvard College 1972 and a J.D. from Harvard College of Law 1975.

Morrisson England7.) University of Pacific – U.S. Judge Morrison England
Morrison C. England Jr. is the Chief Judge of the United States District Court of the Eastern District of California. Born in St. Louis, England was raised in Sacramento, where he graduated from McClatchy High School. He attended Sacramento City College before transferring to University of the Pacific on a football scholarship. England’s first appointment to the bench came from California Gov. Pete Wilson, who named him to the Sacramento Municipal Court in 1996. The following year, Wilson elevated the jurist to the Sacramento Superior Court. In 2002, England was nominated by Pres. George W. Bush to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
Nancy Pelosi8.) San Jose State University – Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

For 27 years, Nancy Pelosi has represented California’s 12th District in the House of Representatives. The 12th District includes most of the City of San Francisco Bayview, Chinatown, the Mission, North Beach, Presidio, SOMA, the Sunset and many of the diverse neighborhoods that make San Francisco a vibrant and prosperous community.
As the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 113th Congress, Pelosi is focused on jumpstarting the middle class by creating jobs here at home, expanding affordable access to education, and empowering America’s women and families. From 2007-2011, Pelosi served as Speaker of the House, the first woman to do so in American history. She first made history in November 2002 when House Democrats elected her the first woman to lead a major political party in Congress. Pelosi has led House Democrats for more than a decade and previously served as House Democratic Whip.

Mike Gabbard9.) University of Hawaii, West Oahu – Senator Mike Gabberd
Senator Mike Gabbard currently serves as chair of the committee on Energy and Environment. He is also a member of the committees on Health, Higher Education & the Arts, and Judiciary & Labor. Senator Gabbard represents Hawaii’s 20th Senatorial District and has served in the Hawaii State Senate since 2006. Gabbard served on the Honolulu City Council from 2003-2005.
David Wilson10.) Dine College – David R. Wilson

As Director of American Indian Affairs and Policy, based in Washington, D.C., Dr. Wilson manages multiple programs, services, and outreach related to American Indian and Native American programs and initiatives. In our nation’s capital, he works closely with federal agencies to collaborate, promote opportunities for the SACNAS membership, and to ensure policy makers hear the voice of our community. Wilson earned a PhD in molecular immunology from Arizona State University and spent time as a senior research scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2010, he participated in the SACNAS Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), which had a profound impact on his life and career and prompted him to join SACNAS. Wilson continues to create opportunities and programs to diversify the STEM fields that will lead to a stronger and more economically viable nation.

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