Students and members of faculty of the University of Pennsylvania have expressed excitement and praised the selection of renowned writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as the Commencement Speaker for the graduation ceremony for the 264th Penn graduating class scheduled to hold on May 18th 2020.
Adichie’s commencement speech at Penn will make her the first Black woman to deliver the address since 1978, when then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Patricia Harris gave the speech. Since it was announced that the Nigerian born writer would give the Commencement Speech at the Ivy League institution, students and faculty members have hailed the choice citing her notable awards, achievements and also her speeches which have contributed hugely to the discourse on race, identity and feminism.
“It will be our pleasure to welcome renowned author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as our 2020 Commencement speaker,” Julie Beren Platt, Penn trustee and chair of the Trustee Honorary Degrees Committee, told the university’s news hub, Penn Today.
Adichie will also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at the Commencement ceremony in May.
University President Amy Gutmann told Penn Today that the university is honored to bestow its highest degree on the celebrated writer whose “compelling narratives and absolutely fascinating commentary on complex cultural issues elevate the power of the individual voice.”
Undergraduate Assembly President and College senior Natasha Menon revealed that she is also looking forward to Adichie’s address. Menon praised Adichie’s 2009 TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” which she recalls seeing in high school. “The way she’s able to tell stories and talk about really pressing issues is pretty extraordinary,” Menon said.
Wharton junior Tuti Gomoka said that although she is not graduating, she will attend the commencement to hear Adichie’s speech. Gomoka shared that Adichie has been her favorite author since she was 15 years old.
Gomoka, who is an international student from Tanzania, said that Adichie’s ideas about feminism and the status of women in Africa resonated with her. “She wrote stories that I could relate to,” Gomoka said. “Whenever I’m in doubt about anything, I always just go and read one of her books.”
Adichie has received numerous awards and recognitions, including in 2008, a Macarthur Fellowship, popularly known as the Macarthur Genius Award. She also received fellowships at Princeton University and the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University.
Her books have been translated into over 30 languages and are used in school curriculums around the world, including Nigeria. Adichie’s TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story” is one of the most viewed TED talks of all time. Her other TED talk, “We Should All Be Feminists” started a global conversation about feminism.
Adichie has received 14 Honorary Doctorate degrees from leading universities around the world, including her alma mater, Yale University. She has delivered keynote addresses at some of the most influential global institutions such as the United Nations General Assembly.