Colorado College will bestow an honorary degree on global media leader, philanthropist, producer, and actress Oprah Winfrey, who is this year’s Commencement speaker. She will deliver the Commencement address at 8:30 a.m., Sunday, May 19, in a ceremony on Tava Quad (formerly known as Armstrong Quad). Ticketed seating will be limited to graduating seniors and their guests; however, the ceremony will be live-streamed from the college’s website. Winfrey has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world, making her one of the most respected and admired figures today. She also is a dedicated philanthropist. During a December 2002 visit with Nelson Mandela, she pledged to build a school in South Africa; today, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls provides an excellent education for 8th- to 12th-grade girls in South Africa. Winfrey has contributed more than $200 million toward providing education for academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, some of whom have attended and graduated from CC.
Jairo Valverde Bermudez ’92, who was appointed the Costa Rican ambassador to Brazil in 2015. He graduated from CC with a bachelor’s degree in political economy, and went on to earn his M.A. in international relations from the International University of Japan. Prior to assuming his post as ambassador to Brazil, he worked for the United Nations Development Programme and served as chief technical advisor in Mozambique. He contributed, among other things, to the UN’s positive role in support of human rights legislation such as the law to protect persons with HIV/AIDS from discrimination in the workplace.
Martile Rowland, an accomplished opera singer who has served as artist in residence for the CC Music Department for more than 20 years. A program director/voice teacher, she was catapulted into the international opera scene with her unexpected debut (six hours’ notice) as Queen Elizabeth in Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereux” with Opera Orchestra of New York in Carnegie Hall. Her efforts as founder/artistic director and producer of Opera Theatre of the Rockies afford her the opportunity to focus on the award-winning Opera Theatre Goes to School, the Pikes Peak Opera League, and the training of young artists.
France Winddance Twine, an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and professor of sociology and documentary filmmaker at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Twine, a nationally prominent ethnographer and feminist race theorist, has published 70 scholarly and artistic works, including 10 books. Her recent publications include “Outsourcing the Womb” and “Girls with Guns: Firearms, Feminism and Militarism.” Twine’s field research spans Brazil, Britain and the United States, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Andrew Mellon Foundation.
Jane Hilberry, professor of creativity and innovation, will give the Baccalaureate address at 3 p.m., Saturday, May 18, in Shove Memorial Chapel. Members of the senior class vote on the Baccalaureate speaker, and in nominating Hilberry, one student wrote, “I have seen her greatly transform students in her classroom from believing they had no creative skills to making elaborate projects, to feeling more fulfilled in their personal lives, to feeling like a more whole person.”