Scripps College Commencement 2020

Commencement Speeches

Scripps has drawn a long list of influential people to campus as commencement speakers. In addition to household names like Gloria Steinem, Gabrielle Giffords ’93, Rachel Carson, Margaret Mead, and Molly Ivins, Scripps students have been inspired by leaders in politics, law, higher education, science and medicine, nonprofits, art, entertainment, and other fields.

Recent Speeches

Kira Knowles Gabriel ’19 · 2019 Commencement

The video of this speech is available here. Something happened in college. I know what you think I’m going to say, which is, I grew! I became analytical! but, no, not that. I became a crier. It’s true! I didn’t really cry at things in high school, only really about things that happened to me. […]

Poppy MacDonald ’97 · 2019 Commencement

The video of this speech is available here. Good afternoon. These speeches generally open with a long list of acknowledgments–and for good reason, because there’s something very special happening today, and no one here had less to do with it than I did. So before I say anything else, please let me say, President Tiedens, […]

Charlayne Hunter-Gault · 2018 Commencement

Greetings Class of 2018 and to all who help you be that! Or as they say in South Africa: All Protocols observed! I am so very honored to be here for so many reasons, not least to remember with you your departed classmate, Tatissa Zunguze., now an Ancestor. And like all Ancestors, I know she […]

Leslie Moreno · 2018 Commencement
Senior Class Speaker

Bienvenidos familiares, compañeras, y amigos,   First, I would like to recognize that we are on sacred Tongva land, and on this land today, we are celebrating a moment in our lives that we have long anticipated with excitement and fear. For many of us, this day has been one that was awaited alongside family […]

Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code · 2017 Commencement

Graduates, deans, parents, and guests: thank you so much for inviting me to share this day with you. I know it’s traditional for a commencement speaker to start off with a joke about which bar everyone’s going to afterward, or the best burger joint on campus, but anyone who knows me knows that I am […]

Vivian Wei-Zhou Zhang · 2017 Commencement
Senior Class Speaker
"We Are More"

Dear friends, family, and family of friends: Today, we’re celebrating this moment in our journeys, and we’re celebrating the journeys that have brought us to this moment. It’s my honor to share with you some thoughts from the road.Our first semester here, Scripps publicly launched its “We Want More” fundraising campaign. I remember the black […]

Madeleine Albright, 64th U.S. Secretary of State · 2016 Commencement

...You will embark on a new stage in your lives – meeting different people, traveling far and wide, and experiencing life as you never have before.You will be able to face the future with confidence because the skills and values you developed here at Scripps will go along with you.This means you are as well-equipped as any young people could be to continue your search for truth in an uncertain and often confusing world.

Catherine Chiang · 2016 Commencement
Senior Class Speaker
"The Magic We Create"

Hello and good evening. I am incredibly honored to be here, with the class of 2016 and many of the people who have supported us along our journey. I always knew there was something magical about Scripps. I still remember walking through the gated archway of Balch Hall for the first time, stepping into the […]

Sarah Kay · 2015 Commencement
Spoken word poet
"What We Build"

Sometimes it is hard to believe that we can be working on the same thing. Sometimes the way you build is so different from the way someone else does. You want to be big and visible and radical and loud, someone else wants to work quietly, under the radar, out of the public eye. It is possible to have many front lines in the same war. It is possible that the people you disagree with are really trying to do the same work, trying to build the same future, even if we see it different ways. You can lay bricks until walls are constructed, until a temple is built. Or you can dream towards a temple until you figure out which walls to build and which bricks to lay. You can shape behavior until it changes minds. Or you change minds until it shapes behavior. You create options by choice and example.

Olivia Buntaine ’15 · 2015 Commencement
Senior Class speaker
"On the Beauty of Endurance"

I know that each and everyone of us in these green robes have our own story of earthy endurance, growing roots deep into rich soil, striving and grappling underground. But we are ready to start growing upwards. Now we can complement the orange trees, and let our endurance tell a different story of beauty. Congratulations class of 2015, we will endure.

Nonie Creme ’94 · 2014 Commencement
Global entrepreneur and founder of cosmetics company Butter London
"Flying by the seat of your pants, but flying just the same"

College is a crucial time to explore yourself and your mind. Try stuff. Develop opinions, and just be in an environment where your BIG job and purpose is simply to think. These years are gold dust. Trust me, you'll carry on reinventing yourself for the rest of your life, but what you learnt here at Scripps will creep in and tap you on the shoulder at the most amazing times. You may not even realize you knew those things, but they're in there.

Sanggeet Manirajah ’14 · 2014 Commencement
2014 Senior Class Speaker
"Humbly, We Walk"

I will leave you not with a quote, but with a question. As you take this first of many steps on this journey, what will you carry with you?

Ruth Owades ’66 · 2013 Commencement
Entrepreneur and founder of Gardener’s Eden and Calyx & Corolla
"Dare to Succeed"

At Scripps you have laid the foundation for the next chapter of your life — whether it is in the Boardroom or the Operating Room, the Classroom or the Courtroom — and always the Family Room, however we fashion it — know that you are well prepared to achieve your dreams.

Roshni Kakaiya ’13 · 2013 Commencement
2013 Senior Class Speaker
"Creating Spaces"

Dear "real world:" Get ready. The Scripps Class of 2013 is taking over. And there ain't no goin' back now.

Zainab Salbi · 2012 Commencement
Founder of Women for Women International
"BE the World You Want to Live"

You have a choice to make today. And the choice is fully yours. You can live your life hiding from your dreams or you can live your dreams today and now. You can live your life being afraid of love, showing it or receiving it, or you can dance in that love, expressing it to all around you and to yourself. You can live your life escaping from your truth, keeping your secrets buried, keeping your silence, keeping yourself busy with this thought or that doubt. And this job or that shirt. Or you can live your life with the courage to face your own truth. To live your truth, to speak your truth, and to be your truth. It is your choice to make.

Claire Hasting Calderón ’12 · 2012 Commencement
2012 Senior Class Speaker
"Constant Revision"

I’d like so very much to send us off that way, knowing that we will not be afraid to challenge what we are given. That we will keep digging deep, deep, deep until we find those juicy roots, that we will plant our uncompromising seedlings and water them fiercely, to make our deliberate and daring mark on the world.

Elizabeth Robbins Turk ’83 · 2011 Commencement
Sculptor and MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship recipient
"What is True in Permanent Change?"

Shouldering the wrong idea may bring unseen richness. This might even give you space to recognize opportunity and the chance to accept a dream too big to have been dreamt. That is what we all wish for you: magnanimous dreams and expansive friendships.

Joss Taylor Greene ’11 · 2011 Commencement
2011 Senior Class Speaker
"Building Nests in Windy Places"

If we can find the courage to define happiness according to our own comfort and intuition, we may stop competing for the sake of it and instead find ways of complementing and supporting each other. We may then define success not according to our individual superiority but as collective participation in a world where we can all be our fullest selves. Not fighting the wind to prove our own strength but building nests in community.

Sue Monk Kidd · 2010 Commencement
"Necessary Fire"

Find a purpose grand enough for your life. And whatever your necessary fire is, your genius turns out to be, remember, in some way, it is necessary for the world too. Try to love the world despite what you see out there. Go make your big beautiful dent, and as you do so come down on the side of boldness. If you err, may it be for too much audacity, and not too little. For you really are enough.

Ann Kidd Taylor · 2010 Commencement
"Necessary Fire"

Today at 34, when I think about all the possible conversations that could go on inside of you at this moment, I hope yours will include a serious discussion about your necessary fire. I hope it will allow you to listen deeply to yourself, perhaps, even give you the courage to invite surprise.

Speaker Archive

Year Speaker Speech
2006 Barbara Arnwine
Executive Director, Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
2005 Lynne Jeffries Hunt '75
FBI legal attach
2004 Gloria Steinem
Feminist activist, co-founder of the National Women's Political Caucus and Ms. Magazine
2002 Hannah Beth-Jackson
State Assembly Woman, California Santa Barbara District
"Well Behaved Woman Rarely Make History"
2001 Jan Piercy
World Bank Executive Director
2000 Naomi Wolfe
"Ethical Leadership for the 21st Century"
1999 Jane Smiley
1998 Donna Shirley
JPL, Mars Program
1997 Wesley Clark
"Global Citzenship for the New Millenium"
1994 Dr. Susan M. Love
Director UCLA Breast Center
"You Can Change the World"
1993 Carol Tavris
Social psychologist, writer, lecturer
"If You Meet the Goddess on the Road..."
1992 Naomi Wolf
Author, social critic
"The Beauty Myth"
1991 Bonnie Jo Hunt
Operatic concert artist; founder & president of Artists of Indian America, Inc.
"Walk in Beauty"
1990 Natasha Josefowitz '48
Adjunct Professor, San Diego State University; management consultant, internationally syndicated columnist and best-selling author
"The Woman of the 1990's: Managing Her Complex Life"
1989 President John H. Chandler
President of Scripps College 1976-1989
"You Can Take It With You"
1988 Andrea Van de Kamp
President and chief executive officer of the Independent Colleges of Southern California
"A Look at Tomorrow"
1987 Tanya Cherry Tull '64
Founder and President of Para Los Ninos & Executive Director of the Los Angeles Family Housing Corporation
"To Change the World - And Make It Better"
1986 The Honorable Cynthia Holcomb Hall
Judge, United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
"Back to the Future"
1985 Benjamin C. Bradlee
Executive Editor, The Washington Post
"The First Rough Draft of History"
1984 Patricia Roberts Harris
Professor of Law, George Washington University
"Preparing for the Twenty-First Century"
1983 Hannah-Beth Jackson
Attorney and Chair, California Commission on the Status of Women
"The Renaissance Woman of the Future"
1982 Sherry Lee Lansing
Production President, Twentieth Century Fox
"Then and Now"
1981 Iris Mitgang
Chair, National Women's Political Caucus
"Women and the Politics of the '80's"
1980 Margaret T. Hance
Mayor of Phoenix, AZ
"If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Back in the Kitchen"
1979 Professor Mary P. Ryan
Associate Professor, State University of New York at Binghamton
"Circling and Ascending: A Century of Women Graduates"
1978 Bella Lewitzky
Artistic Director, Bella Lewitzy Dancers
"Making My Way in Dance"
1977 Joan Dempsey Klein
Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court
"The American Dream: Is It Still Viable"
1976 Helen Hardin Jackson '55
"The Role of Women in Public Life"
1975 Kathleen Brogan Schwarz, M.D. '64
Fellow in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at St. Louis Children's Hospital
"A Different Drummer"
1974 Ruth Ashton Taylor '43
CBS-TV News Reporter
"Maybe It's Time for a Woman President"
1972 Dr. Margaret McKenzie '40
Associate Professor of German, Vassar College
"The Humanities in Today's World"
1971 Dr. Georgiana Hardy
Member, Board of Education of Los Angeles
"The Ardent and Steep Hill of the Morning"
1970 Margaret Mead
Anthropologist, Author and Curator Emeritus of Ethnology of the American Museum of Natural History
"What is a Crisis"
1969 William Ayres Arrowsmith
University Professor of Arts and Letters, University of Texas
Educator and Writer
1968 Rosemary Park
Vice-Chancellor, University of California at Los Angeles
1967 Clarence H. Faust
Former President, Fund for the Advancement of Education
Former Vice President, The Ford Foundation
"Gates of the Future"
1966 C. Page Smith, Provost
Cowell College, University of California, Santa Cruz
"History and Women"
1965 The Honorable Mildred L. Lillie
Justice, California District Court of Appeals
"Significant Status"
1964 Dr. Herbert John Davis
"The True Promethean Fire"
1963 Dr. Alan Willard Brown
"As on a Darkling Plain"
1962 Rachel Carson
Author, "Silent Spring"
1961 Irving M. Walker
"A Look Fore and Aft"
1960 Dr. Louis B. Wright
"A Mind for Leisure"
1959 Dr. Joseph B. Platt
"The Next Twenty Years"
1958 Dr. T. V. Smith
"Feminine Heroism"
1957 The Reverend George A. Buttrick
"Footnote on Progress"
1956 Peter H. Odegard
"The Time is Now"
1955 Vern O. Knudson
"Higher Education in Our Democracy"
1953 Sir Robert Hadow
"The Arbours, Bouquets, and Pleasances of Life"
1952 James Arnold Blaisdell
"A Solute to Scripps College"
1951 Louise Booker Wright
"The Lost Art of Reading"
1950 Lillian Moller Gilbreth
"A Tribute to Books"
1949 John Wendell Dodds
"Shadows and Realities"
1948 Marjorie Hope Nicolson
"And Gladly Teach"
1947 Lynn T. White, Jr.
1946 Theodore M. Greene
"The Challenge of our Times"
1945 William A. Nitze
"In Retrospect: The Liberal Arts at Commencement"
1944 Louis B. Wright
"Women on the Cultural Frontier"
1943 Frank C. Baxter
"The One and the Many"
1941 Henry Purmort Eames
"The Canons and Currency of Beauty"
1937 Everett Dean Martin
"The Open Mind"
1936 Ernest J. Jaqua
"Are Women Being Educated"
1934 Avery O. Crave
"Social Intelligence"
1933 Susan Miller Dorsey
1932 Nathaniel W. Stephenson
1931 Dr. Edward A. Steiner
"The New Woman in the New World "