Social advocacy, political awareness and activism thread students of Vassar’s Class of 2019 together, connecting them and characterizing their time at Vassar as they prepare for life outside of its hallowed gates. The Commencement Ceremony will serve as a moment for students to reflect upon their college experiences, inspiring them as they are thrust into their futures. Possessing similar qualities to the graduating class, political commentator, author and social justice leader Van Jones will deliver this year’s Commencement address.
Jones is an active CNN political contributor, the host of “The Van Jones Show” on CNN and the author of three books on The New York Times Best Sellers list. A social and environmental justice leader, Jones has founded and led The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, Rebuild The Dream think tank, The Dream Corps and Magic Labs Media (Van Jones, “About Van Jones”). He was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act signed by George W. Bush in 2007, and he worked as the green jobs advisor for the Obama administration in 2009 (Van Jones). Today, Jones serves on the Board for Dream Corps, a platform he founded in 2015 that unites competing communities to overcome social challenges by reforming the criminal justice system, increasinging opportunity in the tech sector, building an inclusive green economy and reducing intolerance (“Our Mission,” The Dream Corps). Jones’ accomplishments as a political leader and social entrepreneur are reflected in the abundance of awards he has received, some of which are spotlighted on his website. These include the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation; Rolling Stone’s 2012 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”; TIME’s 2009 “100 Most Influential People in The World”; and the Root’s 2014 “The Root 100” (Van Jones).
Vassar’s 155th Commencement Ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 26 at 10:00 a.m. in the outdoor amphitheater.