Pitzer College’s Graduating Class Selects Award-Winning Journalist Guy Raz as the 2017 Commencement Keynote Speaker

Guy Raz
Guy Raz

Claremont, Calif. (April 10, 2017) — Guy Raz, the host, co-creator and editorial director of National Public Radio’s TED Radio Hour and How I Built This, will deliver the keynote address at Pitzer College’s 53rd Commencement on Saturday, May 13.

Raz described being asked by Pitzer’s graduating students to speak at their commencement as “both an extraordinary honor and a giant responsibility.”

“As a journalist and storyteller, I have had the enormous privilege of being allowed into the lives and stories of thousands of people over the past 20 years,” Raz said. “This year, Pitzer’s senior class has asked me to channel that received wisdom and offer it to them. I come to this moment with profound gratitude for the opportunity to share in such an incredibly important milestone for these graduates and their families.”

Raz has spent nearly his entire career at NPR. He joined NPR as an intern for All Things Considered in 1997, not long after graduating from Cambridge University with a master’s degree in history. He later became the youngest overseas bureau chief in NPR’s history when—at 25—he stepped in to lead the organization’s Berlin bureau. He also served as a correspondent for CNN and as NPR’s London bureau chief before being tapped, in 2009, to host NPR’s flagship show All Things Considered. He launched the TED Radio Hour in 2013 and started the How I Built This podcast three years later. Since then, those shows have become two of NPR’s most popular programs, reaching more than 14 million people monthly. The TED Radio Hour is the fastest-growing NPR program in history and the third most-downloaded podcast in the US, according to NPR’s website.

For two decades, Raz has traveled the globe and mapped a world of ideas, taking listeners into remote corners of the earth and the far reaches of the human imagination. He has reported from more than 40 countries and covered the Pentagon, the Israel-Palestine conflict and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Raz won both the Edward R. Murrow Award and the Daniel Schorr Journalism prize for his reporting from Iraq.

Graduating seniors voted for Raz after culling a list of finalists from approximately 60 speaker nominations that included politicians, poets, journalists, educators, actors and activists.

Raz, who plans to donate his speaker’s honorarium to a program that supports scholarships for undocumented students, said he is inspired by the Pitzer community’s “commitment to social justice, the spirit of inquiry, ethical living and thinking, and kindness.”

“We are living in a very challenging time,” he said. “Our planet, our country and our communities are being tested in ways few of us have experienced. This moment in history will shape everything that follows. And the students at Pitzer—a generation that will lead and transform our society for the better—have an enormous task ahead of them. I cannot pretend to have the answers. But I do believe that they will.”

Kepa Barrett ’17, an environmental analysis major and economics minor, was selected as the senior class speaker. Born and raised in Hawaii, Barrett is a Robert Redford Conservancy student fellow who has served as a diversity intern for Pitzer’s Office of Admission and as the head mentor for the 5C Indigenous Peer Mentoring Program. Off campus, Barrett worked with environmental and governmental organizations in his home state, tutored with the Tongan Education Program in Ontario, CA, and volunteered at an immigration center while studying abroad in Parma, Italy.

The Class of 2017 also selected Professors Will Barndt and Roberta Espinoza as student marshals. This year’s faculty marshals will be Professors Alicia Bonaparte and Rachel VanSickle-Ward. The honored guests are Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Moya Carter and dining hall staff member Gary Lewis.

The 53rd Pitzer College Commencement will be streamed live from Pitzer College’s Stephen L. Glass Commencement Plaza at 10 a.m. on May 13 at www.pitzer.edu/webcast/.  For more information about the 2017 Pitzer College Commencement, please visit: https://www.pitzer.edu/commencement/.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

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