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Emerson College’s 136th Commencement Ceremonies: Speakers and Honorees

Media contact: Carole McFall, 617-824-8415,

(April 19, 2016) BOSTON, MA—During Emerson College’s 136th Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 8, acclaimed novelist Alice Sebold, accomplished investigative reporter Juan Gonzalez, and celebrated poet and essayist Danielle Legros Georges ’86 will each receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees. Sebold will give the undergraduate address and Legros Georges will give the graduate address.

Approximately 970 undergraduates and 350 graduate students will receive their degrees during Commencement ceremonies that will be held at the Agganis Arena at Boston University, 925 Commonwealth Avenue. The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 10:00 am, followed by the graduate ceremony at 3:00 pm. Both ceremonies will be streamed live at

Alice Sebold’s first novel, The Lovely Bones, became an unprecedented international bestseller, with translations in 45 languages and American sales alone of more than 5 million copies. The novel, which focuses on the topics of rape, child murder, and the dissolution of families, was subsequently made into a film, The Lovely Bones, released in 2009, that was adapted, written, and directed by Peter Jackson. Sebold’s 1999 memoir, Lucky, which gives an account of her rape at the age of 18 and the trial that followed, also rose to number one on The New York Times bestseller list. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Sebold grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended Syracuse University as well as the University of Houston and UC Irvine.

Danielle Legros Georges ‘86 is Boston’s Poet Laureate, an honorary appointment by the Mayor within the Office of Arts & Culture. Her mission is to make poetry accessible through programs, civic events, public readings, and collaborations. She is also a professor in the Creative Arts and Learning Division at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her areas of academic interest include arts and education, contemporary American poetry, African-American poetry, Caribbean literature and studies, and literary translation. A writer and poet, Legros Georges has been widely recognized for her work. She received the 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship in Poetry; the 2012 Massachusetts Cultural Council Finalist in Poetry; Lesley University Faculty Development Grant; and a 2013 Black Metropolis Research Consortium Fellowship. Her work has been widely published, and in 2001 she published a collection of poems, entitled Maroon. Born in Haiti and raised in Boston’s Haitian community in Mattapan, she received a BS in Communication Studies from Emerson College and an MFA in English and Creative Writing from New York University.

Juan Gonzalez, during his 35-year career, has emerged as one of the country’s best-known Latino journalists. He has been a staff columnist for New York’s Daily News since 1987, and a co-host since 1996 of “Democracy Now,” a daily morning news show that airs on more than 1,200 community and public radio and television stations across the United States and Latin America. His investigative reports on urban policy, the environment, race relations, the labor movement, and US relations with Latin America have garnered numerous accolades, including two George Polk Awards for commentary and lifetime achievement awards from the National Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the National Council of La Raza. Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, he was raised in East Harlem and Brooklyn, New York. He received a BA from Columbia University and has been a visiting professor in public policy at Brooklyn College.

About Emerson College

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has 3,680 undergraduates and 670 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its study and internship programs in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, the Netherlands, London, China, and the Czech Republic. For more information, visit

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