2017 Women’s College Coalition Members Commencement Speakers

Posted By Sue Anne Morgan - 06/23/2017

Cedar Crest College: Commencement May 13, 2017
Speaker: Molly Barker - Founder of Girls on the Run International

Cedar Crest Commencement Speaker“Remember that the things that matter aren’t things, it’s the space between the things. The connections, the way we treat people, the way we lift others that makes our lives matter. In closing, I want to share one more quick story. I was standing that the finish line of the Girls on the Run 5k. Thousands of kids were out on the course, when suddenly Mikita, the lead girl, emerges from the pack. When she crossed the finish line, I ran over to her. Her face was flushed and her eyes were bright. Her time was fast, and I mean really fast, especially for legs that are only 8-years-old. ‘Goodness, girl,’ I said. ‘How do you run so fast? How do you do that? That was amazing!’ She stood there for a few seconds, and then said, very slowly to make sure I completely understood, ‘Well, you see Molly, I put one foot in front of the other and I do it fast.’ So let me recap my speech using Mikita’s message of sharing: Life happens. Be yourself. Love people.”

College of Saint Mary: Commencement May 21, 2017
Speaker:  Simone Campbell, SSS - Executive director of NETWORK - a national group of social justice advocates who work to mend the gaps in income and wealth

College of Saint Mary Commencement Speaker

Sister Simone led four cross-country “Nuns on the Bus” journeys focused on economic justice, comprehensive immigration reform, voter turnout, bridging divides in politics and society, and mending the gaps.
College of Saint Mary hosted its 93rd Commencement in Omaha, Nebraska, on Sunday, May 21. Nearly 250 women graduated with bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in a variety of disciplines. Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK-a national group of social justice advocates, presented the commencement address. Mary Nastase, a 76-year-old great-grandmother, graduated with her bachelor's degree after taking classes over a period or more than 50 years.


Cottey College: Commencement May 23, 2017
Speaker: Dr. Tara Stuart - class of '52 and member of the World Peace and Prayer Society

Cottey College Commencement Speaker

At Cottey College, a 133-year-old private women’s college in Southwest Missouri, graduates received a unique gift from commencement speaker Dr. Tara Stuart ’52.  Dr. Stuart, as a member of the World Peace and Prayer Society, presented each graduate with a miniature Peace Pole to “carry on her journey as living, loving global citizens.”  The pole carries the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four languages. 

In her remarks, Dr. Stuart added, “Peace is living in harmonious relationship with self, others and all life.  The culture of peace is an integral component of global citizenship. Therefore, it is most appropriate that each graduate receive a gift of a miniature Peace Pole.” 

Cottey has long embraced global awareness with an average of 25 countries represented annually on a campus of 350 students.  “The College of World Friendship” is a description attributed to the college. “My challenge to Cottey graduates is to take the spirit of peace that they have absorbed through their Cottey education and take that spirit into the world.” Dr. Stuart is a world traveler and an advocate for peace with a diverse professional background as an educator, speaker, author, illustrator, and CEO. 

Hollins University: Commencement May 21, 2017
Speaker: Mary Beth Hatten - Class of  '71 and Frederick P. Rose Professor of Developmental Neurobiology at The Rockefeller University in New York City

Call to Action:  “…take what you have experienced here at Hollins and enrich our society with…a women’s voice. Perhaps the most important advice from the past decade is that of [Facebook COO and author] Sheryl Sandberg, who wrote about women, ‘We hold ourselves back, in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.’ Try taking the confidence that you feel in your circles at Hollins into the world of business, academia, wherever you may land. Follow your passion and do what you love.”


Mary Baldwin University: Commencement May 21, 2017
Speaker: Tori McClure - President of Spalding University

Mary Baldwin College Commencement SpeakerCall to action: The three things I care about today are: Promoting compassion, Fighting for justice, And encouraging fun.If you remember nothing else remember: “Nothing is worth the wear of winning but laughter and the love of friends.” As you march boldly through life, on occasion, you stumble and you will fall. Don’t worry about it.  There is no failure in falling down, failure lies only in not getting up. It is up to us … It is up to you … As educated people to close the gap between the promise of humanity and the performance of human beings. The world cries out for more educated voices. Education helps us to traverse the distance between possibility and fact. I commend you for reaching this milestone in life, I commend you for your achievements and for the achievements you are yet to make. Mary Baldwin has prepared you well. You have warmed yourselves by the fires of those who raised you. Here at Mary Baldwin you have gathered the tinder of knowledge. The time has come for you to set out and light your own fires.

Meredith College: Commencement May 13, 2017
Speaker: Becky Jacobs - Chief Engagement Officer, Simple Change Wellness

Meredith College Commencement Speaker

Becky Jacobs has spent almost two decades as an operations leader focused on building teams, driving process improvements and delivering change management programs. She has a passion for helping others embrace new ideas and take action to achieve positive results. Jacobs is chief engagement officer at Simple Change Wellness, which designs, implements, and manages customized wellness programs for local businesses. She previously served as senior director of global operations change management at Red Hat. In addition to this role, Jacobs initiated and led the company’s Global Volunteer Program. She also spent 11 years as a leader at Bank of America in roles such as the vice president of the national credit card bankruptcy department. 

“Some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your time at Meredith go far beyond the academics. You’ve learned about your strengths. You’ve created a plan for success. You’ve build relationships that will provide a life-long support structure. You’ve learned who you are as a leader, and as a person.”

Jacobs said one of the most important things she’s learned is finding the strength to face fear. 
“You are not defined by your fears, but by how you choose to face them. You choose each day to make your personal wellbeing a priority. To life a life filled with faith, to surround yourself with people who will make you stronger, help you get back up when you fall, and help you to find the strength to face your fears.”

Read more: http://www.meredith.edu/news/detail/meredith-college-holds-2017-commencement
Strong Stories about the Class of 2017: http://www.meredith.edu/goingstrong/blog/

Moore College of Art and Design: Commencement May 13, 2017
Speaker: Ingrid Schaffner - Curator, 57th Carnegie International

Moore College Commencement Speaker“Us being together now as women is even more relevant today. Looking at you, I’m thinking of the Women’s Marches that took place around the world, just over 100 days ago, that demonstrated how vigilant we are and must continue to be to defend those truths that ARE self evident—that all people are created equal and a woman’s choice is A WOMAN’S CHOICE. Looking at you, I know it’s going to be alright. Why? Because you are about to receive diplomas in art and design, diplomas that prove you have the power to envision beautiful things and create a truly progressive future.”


Salem College: Commencement May 20, 2017
Speaker: Susan Goldberg - Editorial Director, National Geographic Partners; and Editor in Chief, National Geographic Magazine

Salem College Commencement Speaker

Susan Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of National Geographic magazine, told graduates of Salem College that even thought they are receiving their degrees in an era of change and disruption, they should always  pursue their dreams as she did, becoming the first female editor of National Geographic magazine.

“So many times, I’ve been the only woman in the room for so many years,” Goldberg said. She said she looks forward to a day when women being in charge of American workplaces is an ordinary event. Goldberg added that Salem graduates are prepared to succeed in a transformative society in which each of them may have 10 different jobs during their lives.

“This is a thrilling time to be you,” Goldberg said.

Simmons College: Commencement May 19, 2017
Speaker: Gina McCarthy - Former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Simmons College Commencement Speaker

Gina McCarthy was conferred with the degree Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, and shared thoughts, stories, and experiences from her 35-year career in public service.

“You have grown because you had the opportunity to learn from and to be supported by other women.  Women who share this country’s commitment to service. Service is what defines this school. Service matters.  It brings meaning to life and binds us together as families, as communities and as a country.  And service matters—especially when things seem the bleakest.”  

“We were all in government to serve the public—always first and foremost.  Together, we fought to make life better—all of us—because that’s what we signed up for.  Not to play a partisan game.  Not just to score another `W’ for our side—but to help people.  To give voice to those with the least who need help the most, to lift up the downtrodden communities.  To build a better nation.”

“That is the power of service—and while it might not seem like it now, it can overcome partisanship.  It can overcome polarization.  I have seen it.  And all of you need to believe in that, now more than ever.”

University of Saint Joseph: Commencement May 13, 2017
Speaker: Joyce James  - CEO and Owner of Joyce James Consulting

University of Saint JosephA leader in the fight against racial inequity, Joyce James addressed the University of Saint Joseph 2017 graduates in a moving commencement speech on May 13, 2017. Influenced by her experiences constructing nationally-recognized models to address disproportionality and disparity, especially during her work at the Texas Child Protective Services, she shed light on the racial injustices present in the world today while empowering graduates to use their education to help others. Visit our website to discover more about James and other honorary degree recipients, or to learn about our inspiring graduates.