Honorary degree recipients Lois Lowry, Priya Manickchand, Nikky Finney and Abelardo Morell addressed the Lesley graduates.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
During the afternoon ceremony, Lesley honored its undergraduate students, who were addressed by the following honorary degree recipients:
During the morning ceremony, Lesley honored its graduate students, who were addressed by the following honorary degree recipients:
Nikky Finney is an award-winning American. Her fourth book of poems, “Head Off & Split,” won the prestigious 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. Her many honors include a Kentucky Arts Council fellowship, the PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN American Open Book Award, the Kentucky Foundation for Women’s Artist Fellowship Award, the Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, and the Benjamin Franklin Award from the Independent Booksellers Association. Celebrated as a champion for African-American writers, Finney grew up in South Carolina during the turbulent period of school desegregation, and her writing has been profoundly influenced by her parents, who were activists during the Civil Rights era, and by a deep connection to the land. Finney compiled and edited a volume of poetry in 2007 showcasing the works of 100 African-American poets, called “The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South.” Finney holds the John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Southern Letters and Creative Writing at the University of South Carolina, and served as Distinguished Writer in Residence at Lesley University in summer 2012.
Lois Lowry is a Newbury Medal-winning children’s author who has written more than 40 books, including “The Giver” and “Number the Stars,” and her works have been translated into 27 languages. Her deep desire to affect an eager generation of readers and address complex subjects was honored in 2007 by the American Library Association, which named Lowry the Margaret A. Edwards Award winner for her lifetime contribution to literature for young adults. Lowry got married and had four children before her 25th birthday, and she didn’t start writing professionally until she was in her mid-30s. She has since won major awards including the Newbury Medal twice, the Mark Twain Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Chicago Tribune Book Award. A movie adaptation of “The Giver,” starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, is set to hit theaters in August. Lowry has traveled around the world, speaking to children in Spain, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand and Australia about the importance of literature and imagination in their lives.
Priya Devi Manickchand is Guyana’s minister of education, and the former minister of human services and social security. She is a tireless champion for Guyana’s most vulnerable: children, women and the elderly. Before entering the political arena, Manickchand worked as an attorney and served on the Guyana Bar Association and the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers. In 2006, she became one of the youngest cabinet members in the world. As minister of human services and social security, she worked on and piloted through the Parliament major legislation to address the needs of children traumatized by sexual violence. She established the Childcare and Protection Agency, and passed a modern Sex Offenses Act that revolutionized the way sex offences are viewed and are to be treated in Guyana. In 2011, she was appointed minister of education. Manickchand was instrumental in building a special relationship between Guyana and Lesley University that resulted in the creation of a master’s program for Guyanese school counselors, probation officers and social workers to address domestic violence and child abuse. The first class of 13 students is graduating at 2014 Commencement.
Abelardo Morell was born in Havana, Cuba in 1948, and his family left in 1962 during the revolution and came to the United States, settling in New York. He is best known for his camera obscura images, an optical device that projects an image of the outside inside a room. His awards include the International Center of Photography 2011 Infinity award in Art, a Cintas grant, a Guggenheim fellowship, the Rappaport Prize, and an Alturas Foundation grant in 2009 to photograph the landscape of West Texas. Last year, the Art Institute of Chicago, The Getty Museum, and The High Museum in Atlanta jointly organized a retrospective exhibition of Morell’s work that is now traveling to these institutions through May 2014. He has been published widely and his work has been collected and shown in museums and galleries around the world. A documentary titled “Shadow of the House” chronicles Morell’s career and his return to Cuba for the first time in 2010. He is a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
For more information about Commencement day, please visit the Commencement page.
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