The Graduate Division is pleased to announce that our keynote speaker for graduation will be Professor Herman Beavers.
Professor Herman Beavers is the Julie Beren Platt and Marc E. Platt President's Distinguished Professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has taught since 1989. He teaches courses in 20th and 21st-century African American literature and creative writing, including courses on Southern Modernism, 21st-century African American poetry, and "Trading Fours": The Literatures of Jazz, a prerequisite course in the Jazz and Popular Music minor.
Dr. Beavers teaches the intermediate poetry workshop in the Creative Writing Program and also teaches an Arts-Based Community Service course entitled "August Wilson and Beyond," which brings Penn students together with West Philadelphia residents to read August Wilson's 20th Century Cycle. His most recent poems have appeared in Moonstone Press's The Featured Anthology 2014, 2018, 2020, and 2022, The Langston Hughes Colloquy, MELUS, Versadelphia, Cleaver Magazine, The American Arts Quarterly, and Supplement, Vol. 2. His poems and stories are anthologized in the volumes Obsession: Sestinas for the Twenty-First Century, Remembering Gwen, Who Will Speak for America, Show Us Your Papers, and Best Philadelphia Stories 2020. Professor Beavers is the author of three chapbooks, A Neighborhood of Feeling (1986), Obsidian Blues (2017), and The Vernell Poems (2019). He is also one of 16 poets from the US and UK to be featured as part of the project "Postcards to the Past: (Re)Writing the Poets' Archive," sponsored by Oxford University.
Professor Beavers is collaborating with saxophonists Odean Pope and Immanuel Wilkins in a project titled "(Re)Sounding Progressions," where Pope and Wilkins are composing music for a 14-piece ensemble inspired by his sonnet sequence, titled "Progressions." His latest scholarly book is Geography and the Political Imaginary in the Novels of Toni Morrison (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). He recently served as co-guest editor (with Ryan Sharp) on a special issue of Women's Studies, titled After Morrison.
Remarks from Degree Recipients:
Nakul Deshpande, Sarah Xia Yu, and Kimberly Cárdenas
Nakul Deshpande graduated with a PhD in Earth & Environmental Science. He is an Earth scientist and musician from northern New Mexico. His research seeks to connect the processes that sculpt natural landscapes with the physics of granular and soft materials. Nakul recently published a paper in Nature Communications titled, "The Perpetual Fragility of Creeping Hillslopes," that grew out of his dissertation. His research has received coverage by the New York Times. Nakul is currently a postdoctoral researcher at North Carolina State University.
Sarah Xia Yu graduated with a PhD in History in 2022. At Penn, she completed a dissertation on hygiene and public health in the 20th century, ran the Chinese House program as a Graduate Associate at Gregory College House, and trained undergraduate students to conduct historical walking tours in Philadelphia. A native of Sydney, Australia, and a longtime international student, Sarah is passionate about reinforcing responsible, globally-minded perspectives in her research and teaching. She is currently an Assistant Professor of History at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA.
Kimberly Cárdenas is graduating with a PhD in Political Science. Her research focuses on the relationship between race, sexuality, and political participation. During her time at Penn, Kim was recognized as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, Fontaine Fellow, and American Political Science Association Minority Fellow. She received her BA in Government from Cornell University in 2017 and was the first in her family to graduate from college. She believes deeply in the power of education.