House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to give 2018 Mount Holyoke College commencement address

SOUTH HADLEY — U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, the House minority leader, will be the keynote speaker at Mount Holyoke College’s 181st commencement ceremony on May 20.

“Nancy embodies the power of a women’s education in developing leaders,” said Rahael Rawson, senior class president, in a college media office release. “No one is going to give us power or leadership.”

Pelosi, 78, is a graduate an all-girls high-school and Trinity Washington University, a women’s college in Washington. “Pelosi is a testament to the power of women’s education, a woman who has wielded her power to effect change in the world,” Mount Holyoke interim Director of Media Relations Keely Savoie said in a prepared statement.

The representative from California’s 12th District in San Francisco, Pelosi was elected to Congress in 1986. She rose to House Democratic whip in 2002 and minority leader in 2003. She was speaker of the Democratic-controlled House from 2007 to 2011, and has been minority leader since Republicans took control following the 2010 election.

In 2013, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York, site of the country’s first women’s rights convention.

“Pelosi embodies the Mount Holyoke spirit as a ground-breaker, a warrior and a world-changer,” Savoie said. 

News of the 2018 commencement speaker was first published in the student newspaper Mount Holyoke News last week.

On her government website, Pelosi, 78, says student debt is a major concern.

“Over 43 million Americans face $1.3 trillion in student loan debt and approximately one-third of all student loan dollars are in default, forbearance or deferment,” Pelosi said.

Mount Holyoke College is South Hadley in located at 50 College St. along Route 116.

Commencement ceremonies will take place at 10:30 a.m. in the Gettell Amphitheater. Pelosi will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws. Sonia Nieto,  professor emerita of language, culture and teaching in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for her work in diversity, equity and social justice and education. Shirley Wilcher, Mount Holyoke Class of 1973, the executive director of the American Association for Access Equity and Diversity, will be awarded a Doctor of Laws for her lifetime’s work on equal opportunity and diversity policy, Savoie said.