Local, National Figures To Deliver Commencement Speeches At Georgia Colleges

Apr 30, 2019

As spring comes to an end, graduation ceremonies quickly approach and commencement speakers are tasked with inspiring graduates as they enter the workforce. This year, Georgia’s colleges and universities will host notable speakers from across the nation, including Daymond John, Sally Yates, John Lewis, Andrew Young and Deborah Roberts.

Georgia Southwestern State University -- Judge George M. Peagler

Peagler was a judge on the Southwestern Circuit of Georgia and spent over 40 years in Georgia’s legal system.

Savannah State University -- Cheryl Dozier & Beauty Baldwin

Savannah State selected Dozier, the school’s president, as the undergraduate commencement speaker. She will be retiring from the position in June. Beauty Baldwin, the first African American female to be a Georgia school superintendent, will present the graduate student keynote address.

Georgia Southern University -- Daymond John

Daymond John, star of "Shark Tank" and self-made millionaire, will speak at the university-wide ceremony. John was appointed as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship by President Obama in 2013.

Mercer University -- Nancy Grace, Sally Yates, William Bradley Turner Jr., Cathy Callaway Adams and Dorian Kithcart

Mercer University holds separate commencement ceremonies for different colleges. Most notably, Sally Yates, former U.S. deputy attorney general, will address law school graduates and Nancy Grace, television star and author, will address graduates of the college’s Atlanta campus. The medical school will host Columbus businessman William Bradley Turner Jr. and the undergraduate ceremony in Macon will feature Cathy Callaway Adams, Mercer’s Board of Trustees chair, and Dorian Kithcart. Kithcart, a senior football player from North Carolina, is the school’s student commencement speaker and will address all 745 of his graduating classmates.

University of North Georgia -- Nathan Deal, Charles N. Davis and Joy Hawkins

Former Governor Nathan Deal, Charles N. Davis, Dean of the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Joy Hawkins, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, will each present a keynote address.

Valdosta State University -- Amy Carter

Carter is a deputy commissioner at the Georgia Department of Economic Development and advocate for economic development in rural Georgia. She graduated from VSU in 1993.

University of Georgia -- Deborah Roberts

Roberts attended the University of Georgia in the 1980s, where she graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism. She’s now an award-winning ABC News correspondent, where she reports on national and international news.

Spelman College -- Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Bottoms is the current mayor of Atlanta and an Atlanta native. Some Spelman students are upset with the choice, using the hashtag “NotKeisha” and saying she doesn’t embody the college’s values.

Morehouse College -- Robert F. Smith

Smith is a self-made businessman and founder of Vista Equity Partners, a national investment firm.

Emory University -- Andrew Young and John Lewis

Emory University’s Oxford College will host John Lewis, Democratic Congressman from Georgia’s 5th District, on their Oxford Campus. Lewis is widely known for his role in the Civil Rights Movement and leadership on Bloody Sunday. Young will speak two days later on Emory’s Atlanta campus. Young was also a leader in civil rights, working closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and going on to serve in the U.S. House, U.N. Ambassador and mayor of Atlanta.

Clark Atlanta University -- Andrew Gillum

Gillum is the former mayor of Tallahassee and was the Democratic candidate for governor in Florida in 2018. Gillum came to national attention during last years’ elections and narrowly lost.

Georgia Gwinnett College -- Andrea Young

Young is executive director of ACLU of Georgia and the daughter of Andrew Young, the former Congressman, ambassador and civil rights activist.

Georgia Tech --  Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan

Duncan is an Atlanta native and attended Georgia Tech on a baseball scholarship. He won a seat in the State House in 2012 and was elected lieutenant governor in 2018.

Oglethorpe University -- Donald Graham

Graham, son of Katharine and Phil Graham, served as publisher of the Washington Post until 2000 and is the current chairman of Graham Holdings Company.