College announces speakers for 182nd Commencement ceremony

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

From left to right: Barbara Smith ’69, Gary Younge and Adrienne Arsht ’63 will speak at Commencement for the class of 2019 in the Field House on May 19.


Adrienne Arsht ’63, Barbara Smith ’69 and Gary Younge have been named as speakers who will address the Class of 2019 for Mount Holyoke College’s 182nd Commencement. Each speaker will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters after their address in the Kendall Sports and Dance Complex Field House on May 19.

Arsht, a philanthropist and business leader, was the first woman to receive the Carnegie Medal of Excellence in 2017 for her leadership in the financial, public and legal sectors. She has worked to promote civic, business and artistic growth in New York City, Miami and Washington, D.C., through her philanthropic efforts. After graduating from Mount Holyoke, Arsht attended Villanova Law School in 1966 and was the 11th woman admitted to the Delaware Bar. She also served as chairman of the board of her family-owned bank, TotalBank. Arsht has served as a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and endowed the Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience and the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. 

As an author, activist and scholar, Smith has opened up national, cultural and political dialogue surrounding the intersections of race, class, sexuality and gender. She is a prolific author and has been featured on PBS and in Essence magazine. Smith was among the first people to build Black women’s studies and Black feminism in the United States and was a driving force behind the creation of the Combahee River Collective, a class-conscious, sexuality-affirming Black feminist organization. She is the winner of numerous awards, including the African American Policy Forum Harriet Tubman Lifetime Achievement Award and the Gustavus Myers Human Rights Book Award. In 2005, Smith was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. 

Younge, a journalist, author, broadcaster and editor-at-large at The Guardian, has covered a wide range of stories in Europe, Africa, the United States and the Caribbean. With a focus on race in his pieces, Younge has covered stories including the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina and President Barack Obama’s election, and is the author of five highly acclaimed books. He is the winner of numerous journalism awards, including Feature Writer of the Year from the Society of Editors Press Awards, Feature of the Year from Amnesty Media Awards and the Foreign Commentator of the Year from The Comment Awards.