Smith, Mount Holyoke and Hampshire colleges holding commencement ceremonies this weekend

Staff Report

Published: 05-19-2023 3:52 PM

Graduation season officially begins this weekend, when three of the five colleges will hold commencement ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Up first is Hampshire College, which will cap off three days of graduation events with an 11 a.m. commencement ceremony under the tent on the library lawn on campus. The ceremony will involve several community speakers and recognition of each graduate. For those who can’t attend in person, the proceedings will be livestreamed on YouTube at and a full video will be posted after the event.

This year’s keynote speaker is Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, a disabled, nonbinary femme writer and disability and transformative justice movement worker.

Smith College will hold its commencement Sunday at 10 a.m. at The Quadrangle on campus.

Activist Reshma Saujani will deliver the keynote address and will also receive an honorary degree at the event, along with five other women.

A leading activist for girls and women for more than a decade, Saujani builds movements to fight for women’s and girls’ economic empowerment. To help close the gender gap in the tech sector, Saujani founded Girls Who Code. Two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, she founded Moms First, which advances policies that support mothers impacted by the pandemic.

The ceremony will also include a speech by President Kathleen McCartney, who is stepping down in June after 10 years at the helm at Smith.

Mount Holyoke College will honor its graduates Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at the Field House in the college’s Kendall Sports & Dance Complex.

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Author and scholar Imani Perry, author and professor Lan Cao ’83 and physicist Nancy Welker ’63 will speak to Mount Holyoke’s newest graduates. The college will also confer honorary doctorates on all three innovators.

Perry is an American interdisciplinary scholar of race, law, literature and African American culture. She is the bestselling author of “South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation,” which won the 2022 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Perry’s work reflects the complex history of Black thought, art and imagination. Her writing is also informed by her background as a legal historian and her understanding of the racial inequality embedded in American law.

Cao is the author of the novels “Monkey Bridge” and “The Lotus and the Storm” and the co-author of the memoir “Family in Six Tones.” She is also a professor of law at the Chapman University School of Law, specializing in international business and trade, international law and development.

Welker is a physicist and nationally recognized expert in superconducting. She had a 55-year career at the National Security Agency, during which she led groundbreaking research in superconducting materials and integrated circuit manufacturing that made it possible to develop a new generation of faster and more powerful computers.