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Soledad O’Brien to Give Class of 2020 Commencement Speech

  • By Amy Dunkin
Soledad O’Brien

Award-winning broadcast journalist and author Soledad O’Brien will deliver the keynote address at the Newmark J-School’s 14th commencement ceremony on Dec. 18, 2020. Typically held at TheTimesCenter auditorium on West 41st Street, graduation in this pandemic year will take place remotely.

The student speaker, chosen by the Class of 2020, and the alumni representative will be announced next month.

O’Brien is a longtime friend of the Newmark J-School. In her recent answer to a Twitter thread about snobbism in the media around hiring people from “elite” private schools, she wrote: “Very very good thread and one of the reasons my company intern pool always over-indexes in @CUNY students. (Who are amazing, btw.)”

In addition to anchoring and producing the Hearst Television political magazine “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien,” the founder and CEO of Soledad O’Brien Productions reports for HBO Real Sports, the PBS NewsHour, and WebMD. She is also the author of two books, a critically acclaimed memoir, The Next Big Story, and Latino in America.

Carolyn Adams ’19, who interned with O’Brien’s production company last summer, said she was a terrific mentor and gave her opportunities to improve as a journalist and learn new skills in other parts of the organization.

“The saying goes that you should never meet your heroes because they’ll disappoint you,” said Adams, who now works at WNYC. “Not only did Soledad not disappoint me, she went beyond my expectations.” Adams also said she admired that O’Brien has made supporting women and people of color integral to everything she does.

O’Brien has anchored and reported for CNN, NBC, and MSNBC. She has won numerous awards, including three Emmys, the George Peabody award, an Alfred I. duPont prize, and the Gracie. She was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists in 2010 and one of Newsweek magazine’s “15 People Who Make America Great” in 2006.

With her husband Brad Raymond, she founded the PowHERful Foundation that helps young women get to and through college. She lives in New York and has four children.

Follow her on Twitter: @soledadobrien