College Graduation Speakers for 2018 Revealed

Duckworth pic

Angela Duckworth, G’03, GR’06,  Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology, will address the Class of 2018 at the graduation ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences on Sunday, May 13, 2018. She will be joined by student speaker Helena von Nagy, C’18.

Duckworth is a leading researcher in the study of grit and self-control. A 2013 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant,” she has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, as well as Fortune 500 CEOs. Her first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance—which Malcolm Gladwell called “persuasive and fascinating”—debuted in 2016 as an immediate New York Times bestseller.

Duckworth is the founder and scientific director of the Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. With Wharton’s Katherine Milkman, she has launched Behavior Change for Good (BCFG), a new initiative that unites leaders in the social sciences, business, medicine, computer science, and neuroscience to help improve people’s daily decisions about health, education and savings. Duckworth has also received numerous awards for her contributions to K-12 education. As a college senior, she co-founded Breakthrough Cambridge, an award-winning enrichment program for low-income children, and went on to lead the program for two years.  In addition, she taught math and science for five years in the public schools of New York City, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

Student speaker Helena von Nagy is a political science and theatre arts major from Reno, Nevada. She has been recognized as a School of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Scholar and a U.K./U.S. Fulbright Award recipient, among numerous other honors. As a Penn undergraduate, she has studied in London and Buenos Aires, completed internships in Latin America and at the U.S. Department of State, and delivered two presentations on human rights at the United Nations.  Helena is also vice-president of Penn Latin and Ballroom Dance, a published blogger on the Global Shakespeare movement, and a global political history podcast host. She is an accomplished actress who has worked on a number of productions at Penn, most recently as Helena in Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well.  Next year, she will pursue a master’s degree in political thought and intellectual history at the University of Cambridge, with plans for a career in international human rights advocacy and litigation.

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