Walden University commencement ceremonies feature leaders from around the world.

Benjamin Jealous speaking at Walden University CommencementEarning a degree is an achievement that deserves to be celebrated. That’s why colleges and universities all over the world hold graduation commencements for those earning bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Commencement exercises publicly acknowledge the accomplishments of students and serve as a ceremonial launching pad for them to pursue their lives and careers. It’s an uplifting event. And it often includes a commencement speaker who offers encouragement and advice to the graduating class. But who you hear at your commencement ceremony depends on where you attend school.

One institution with a history of top commencement speakers is Walden University. While Walden offers its degrees through an online learning environment and has students all over the world, it treats commencement as seriously as it treats education. After all, earning a degree online from an accredited university is an accomplishment the deserves serious recognition. Each summer and winter, Walden gathers its graduates to walk the stage and listen to a commencement speech from a leader who embodies Walden’s mission of social change.

Recent commencement speakers at Walden graduations have included:

Benjamin Jealous, Former NAACP President

For the 2017 winter commencement, Walden featured Benjamin Jealous, the youngest-ever president and CEO of the NAACP. Practically a personification of social change, Jealous has successfully led local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voter rights, secure marriage equality, and free incarcerated people. A graduate of both Columbia and Oxford universities, as well as a Rhodes Scholar, Jealous knows how a good education can lay the foundation for changing the world.

Ernesto Zedillo, Former President of Mexico

Dr. Ernesto Zedillo served as Mexico’s president from 1994 to 2000 and spoke to Walden graduates at the 2016 summer commencement. Currently the director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and a professor of economics and politics at Yale, Zedillo is a strong supporter of postsecondary education. Before serving as Mexico’s president, he was that nation’s secretary of education and has spent his career working toward a world where people have the skills they need to successfully function in the complex, modern labor market.

Edna Adan, Former Foreign Minister of Somaliland

Edna Adan was among the first Somali girls ever awarded one of the few coveted scholarships to study in the United Kingdom. She used that education to become Somaliland’s first qualified nurse-midwife. Eventually, she opened the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, which serves those whose lives have been traumatized by war. She also served as Somaliland’s foreign minister. In her speech to Walden graduates for the 2015 winter commencement, she made clear that everything she’s achieved is thanks to education.

Condoleezza Rice, Former U.S. Secretary of State

As the first and only African-American woman to serve as the United States’ secretary of state, Dr. Condoleezza Rice knows a lot about overcoming barriers to achieve your goals. Rice spoke to Walden graduates at the 2014 summer commencement, sharing her compelling personal story and her experiences during her distinguished career in higher education and diplomacy. Speaking about the extraordinary diversity that Walden’s online education experience fosters within the student body, Rice encouraged students to continue embracing differences and recognizing diversity as a source of strength across the human community.

Óscar Arias Sánchez, Former President of Costa Rica

As president of Costa Rica, Dr. Óscar Arias Sánchez spearheaded the peace effort that resulted in the Esquipulas II Accord, which brought together five Central American nations in an agreement designed to end the hostilities that had plagued the region for years. For his work, Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize. He spoke at the Walden 2012 summer commencement, discussing his lifelong efforts to promote peace and the role education plays in securing social change.

Esteemed commencement speakers such as Jealous, Zedillo, Adan, Rice, and Arias represent just one of the many ways Walden ensures its students receive a top-notch education buttressed by a mission of social change. Twice a year, members of the Walden community gather to celebrate the accomplishments of its graduates. If you’re seeking an education that combines the convenience and flexibility of an online university with the weight of accreditation and social purpose, Walden could be the perfect place for you to earn a degree.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life. 


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org. 

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