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Spelman College Commencement 2017

Commencement Recap 2019


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Commencement Ceremony 2019

Class Day

Through Laughter and Tears, Class of 2019 Reflect During Class Day

During their Class Day service, the top class of 2019 students reflected on the trials and triumphs of their four years at Spelman. Through laughter and a few tears, they offered thoughts and wisdom from Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni and their own hearts. “We leave behind a legacy of love, tenacity and change,” said Bria Paige, C’2019, Spelman Student Government Association president. “Our time at Spelman was the catalyst for the women we will become.” In her Ivy Oration, valedictorian Ariana Benson, C’2019, challenged her classmates to rethink their goals.  “Too often, we conceptualize changing the world as a revolutionary act, as something that requires a massive movement, or major life experience, or a title,” she said. “I challenge us instead, to think of world-changing as a product of the butterfly effect. One flap of a butterfly’s wings may start a tornado. A single stone dropped in the middle of the ocean can make ripples that launch a massive tidal wave. A fleeting moment of connection can change a person’s life.”


Spelman’s Graduating Class of 2019 Charged to ‘Be Heard, Inspire Change’

Throughout Commencement weekend, Spelman’s graduating class of 2019 was reminded of their responsibility to inspire change. “As members of the Spelman sisterhood, you have a moral responsibility to use your voice to inspire positive change in your world,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms during her Commencement address Sunday. “It is ingrained in your DNA.” Mayor Bottoms spoke about the sacrifices of civil rights activists like her great aunt Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson, C’65, a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who fought against segregation throughout the south. “You are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Sonia Sanchez, the 2019 honorary degree recipient, told the 480 graduates. “You are the ones who can change the world.” On Saturday morning Baccalaureate speaker, Alisha Lola Jones, Ph.D., encouraged the graduates to make their voices heard. “Go and shine your light,” she said. “Be attuned to your greatness. Honor your elders. Listen to others, tell your stories and make them hear you.”

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Class of 2019 Stories

Persistence Pays Off for Spelman's Co-salutatorian Kristen Walker

by Allison Howard | May 19, 2019

Kristen Walker

In third-grade, a pigtailed Kristen Walker was told she was not ready to tackle advanced academic courses in her elementary school. Fast forward a decade, and Walker, a political science and Spanish double major, is co-salutatorian of Spelman’s class of 2019.

“Graduating as the valedictorian of my high school and now as the salutatorian from Spelman College allows me to look back and thank that little girl for not giving up and believing in her brilliance,” said Walker. She aspires to be an attorney and politician who represents the most disadvantaged communities and dismantles oppressive policies that seek to destruct rather than empower all.

The gifted and talented Richmond, Virginia native, will attend Harvard Law School beginning in the fall of 2021 after she completes a two-year stint in the Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. offices of McGuireWoods Law and Consulting Firm.

“I truly pride Spelman for encouraging me to continuously make space in spaces that were never made for Black women like me to operate in and never cower in my contributions or underestimate my worth and value,” said Walker. “After law school, I plan to run for office and serve as an advocate for criminal justice as well as education reform.”

With a resume that includes participating in the prestigious TRIALS Program at Harvard Law School; teaching English during the academic semester in Granada, Spain; and interning at the Georgia State Capitol, in the Office of U.S Senator Mark Warner, and in the Office of Congressman Al Lawson through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, she is well prepared to take on the world of law.

Walker also served as the co-director of Leadership and Civic Engagement for the Student Government Association during the 2018-19 academic year. Through her role with the organization, she assisted in the implementation of Michelle Obama’s “When We All Vote” initiative to increase the number of registered student voters on Spelman’s campus.

Start of QuoteSpelman taught me that the shoulders upon which I stand are great. This institution functions as a space of empowerment where I am constantly learning and reclaiming the deep history of my people. Therefore, Spelman has reinforced my confidence through an enriched understanding of those who have come before me and deepened my appreciation for the foundation that they have laid. Spelman has also taught me the importance of interdisciplinary learning and critical thinking.End of Quote