Commencement Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Laverne Cox (Photo by Melissa Hamburg)
Laverne Cox (Photo by Melissa Hamburg)

Pitzer College’s Class of 2019 has selected award-winning transgender actress, producer and equal rights advocate Laverne Cox to keynote this year’s commencement ceremony.

Cox is a two-time Emmy-nominated actress and Emmy-winning producer best known for her work on the critically acclaimed Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. Cox is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show and the first openly trans person to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category.  She is also the first trans woman of color to produce and star in her own television show, VH1’s TRANSForm Me, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. Cox is the first trans woman of color to appear on an American reality television program, VH1’s I Wanna Work for Diddy, for which she accepted the GLAAD Media Award for “Outstanding Reality Program.” She also received GLAAD’s 2014 Stephen F. Kolzak Award in recognition of her work promoting LGBTQ equality.

In addition to her acting, Cox is a renowned speaker who encourages her audience to live more authentically.

Senior Speaker, Faculty Marshals, Student Marshals and Honored Guest

This year’s senior class speaker is Jacquelyn Aguilera. The student marshals are Menna Bizuneh, assistant professor economics and Barbara Junisbai, assistant professor of organizational studies; and the faculty marshals are Melinda Herrold-Menzies, professor of environmental analysis and associate dean of faculty, and Claudia Strauss, professor of anthropology. The class also selected Dan Hirsch, dean of campus life, as their honored guest.