Claremont, Calif. (May 7, 2021)—Congressperson Mondaire Jones (D-New York), a lifelong advocate for civil rights and civil liberties, will deliver the keynote address at Pitzer College’s virtual 2021 Commencement on Saturday, May 15. The digital ceremony will also feature Pitzer President Melvin L. Oliver, faculty, and, of course, Pitzer’s graduating Class of 2021. Leadership of Pitzer’s senior class selected and secured Rep. Jones as this year’s keynote speaker, with Senior Class President Veronica Martinez ’21 personally reaching out to the Congressperson’s office on behalf of the Class of 2021.
Rep. Jones represents New York’s 17th District in the US House, where he serves on the Judiciary, Education and Labor, and Ethics Committees. He was unanimously elected by his congressional colleagues to be the freshman representative to leadership, making him the youngest member of the Democratic House leadership team. Jones was appointed a deputy whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and became a co-chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus in December 2020.
Rep. Jones earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, worked at the Department of Justice during the Obama administration, and graduated from Harvard Law School. He is a co-founder of the nonprofit Rising Leaders, Inc. and has previously served on the NAACP’s National Board of Directors and on the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Born and raised in Rockland, NY, by a single mother, Jones is a leader, lawyer, and activist who has been a champion of children and working families throughout his career. Since his first day in Congress on January 4, 2021, he has helped pass numerous bills in the House, including the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package signed into law by President Biden; the Equality Act, which outlaws LGBTQ+ discrimination; and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
In addition to Jones, Pitzer’s virtual 2021 Commencement will include multiple student voices. Seniors scheduled to appear in the graduation ceremony include Kyle Davis ’21, Zawadi Doti ’21, Veronica Martinez ’21, Kay Wright ’21, Becca Zimmerman ’21, and Yusef Pierce ’21, who is on track to be the first student to earn an undergraduate degree through Pitzer’s new Inside-out Pathway-to-BA program for incarcerated individuals.
Although commencement will be virtual for the first time in Pitzer’s history, many elements of the ceremony will be in keeping with Pitzer College tradition. The Class of 2021 selected Professors Barbara Junisbai and Rachel VanSickle-Ward ’99 as its student marshals. This year’s faculty marshals will be Professors Maria Soldatenko and Joe Parker. The honored guest is Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Sandra Vasquez, and Trustee and Alumni Board member Michele Siqueiros ’95 will deliver the alumni greeting.
Pitzer College’s virtual Commencement 2021 ceremony can be viewed on Pitzer’s website at 10 a.m. on May 15 at www.pitzer.edu and afterward on Pitzer’s Commencement page.
For more information about the 2021 Pitzer College Commencement, please visit: www.pitzer.edu/commencement