April Lewis, 64, wears her mortarboard that says “40 PLUS YRS” during fall 2017 commencement exercises on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017 at Georgia State University’s Perimeter campus. Lewis, 64, and her sister Mae Brown, 67, began their college careers in the 1970s, but it’s taken them a few years to graduate. Their studies were interrupted by jobs, childbirths, family illnesses, etc. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Who’s speaking at 2019 metro Atlanta commencement ceremonies?

College commencement ceremonies are often remembered as much for the keynote speaker as much as the moment students receive their degrees.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the people scheduled to give various commencement addresses next month at various Atlanta-area colleges and universities and at the University of Georgia, the state’s flagship school. Some schools require tickets to attend the ceremonies.

AGNES SCOTT COLLEGE - Emerging artist Jordan Casteel, a graduate of the college’s Class of 2011, will speak and Mallika Balakrishnan will give the student commencement speech. The ceremony is scheduled for Sat., May 11.

ATLANTA METROPOLITAN STATE UNIVERSITY - The school’s president, Gary McGaha, who is retiring at the end of the semester, will be the keynote speaker. The ceremony is scheduled for Fri., May 3 at 10:15 a.m. on campus.

Atlanta Metropolitan State College president Gary McGaha. Photo Credit: University System of Georgia.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA TECHNICAL COLLEGE - Richard Cox, chief operating officer of the city of Atlanta, will speak at its ceremony, scheduled for Sat., May 11, 11 a.m. at the Georgia International Convention Center.

City of Atlanta COO Richard Cox speaks during the sign unveiling ceremony for the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame Thursday, May 24, 2018, in Atlanta.
Photo: Jason Getz/For the AJC

CHATTAHOOCHEE TECHNICAL COLLEGE - Sue Nguyen, 2019 GOAL State finalist, will be the speaker at both ceremonies. The ceremonies are scheduled for May 16, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Clarence Brown Conference Center in Cartersville.

CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY - Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will speak at its ceremony, scheduled for Mon., May 20, 8 a.m. on its campus.

Florida gubernatorial Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum gives a speech to a packed crowd during the Florida Democratic Party rally held at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida on Monday, October 22, 2018. (Octavio Jones/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)

CLAYTON STATE UNIVERSITY - Veteran broadcaster Lisa Rayam and Piedmont Henry Hospital Chief Executive Officer Deborah Armstrong will be commencement speakers at its ceremonies. Its graduate ceremony is scheduled for Fri., May 3, 5 p.m. in the Athletics Center. The undergraduate ceremonies are scheduled for Sat., May 4 at 9 a.m. and noon in the same facility.

Lisa Rayam
Photo: Jennifer Brett/Atlanta Buzz

EMORY UNIVERSITY - Civil rights icon Andrew Young will speak at the ceremony

on Mon., May 13 on campus.

Andrew Young, former Ambassador to the United Nations, is seen at the 100 Black Men of Atlanta 2018 Gala at Bentley Atlanta in Alpharetta on Dec. 2. (Casey Sykes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

GEORGIA GWINNETT COLLEGE - American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia executive director Andrea Young is the scheduled speaker. The ceremony is set for Thu., May 16, 10 a.m. at the Infinite Energy Center Arena in Duluth.

Andrea Young, the daughter of former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, became the executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia in 2007. (REANN HUBER/REANN.HUBER@AJC.COM)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

GEORGIA PIEDMONT TECHNICAL COLLEGE - The college’s new president, Tavarez Holston, will be the speaker at its ceremony, scheduled for Sat. May 18, 10 a.m. at Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers.

Tavares Holston is the new president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY - The school has scheduled commencement ceremonies from Mon., May 6 through Tue., May 14. Georgia State has not scheduled commencement speakers because they call the names of each graduate, a spokeswoman said.

GEORGIA TECH - Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan will speak at the morning ceremony on Sat., May 4, 9 a.m. at McCamish Pavilion. Georgia Lottery President & CEO Gretchen Corbin will speak at the afternoon ceremony, which starts at 3 p.m. at the same location.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Georgia Lottery Corp. President and CEO Gretchen Corbin. PHOTO CREDIT: Georgia Lottery Corp.

GWINNETT TECHNICAL COLLEGE - Damar Lewis, the school’s 2019 Academic Excellence Award Winner, is the speaker. The ceremony is scheduled for Fri., May 10, 11 a.m. at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville.

INTERDENOMINATIONAL THEOLOGICAL CENTER - The Rev. Penny Brown Reynolds, who has also won an Emmy award for her television court show, will be the commencement speaker. The ceremony is scheduled for Sat., May 11, 10 a.m. at Friendship Community Church in Atlanta.

Judge Penny Brown Reynolds will be keynote speaker at the DeKalb County MLK celebration. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: For the AJC

KENNESAW STATE - Keith Schroeder, Founder and CEO of High Road Craft Ice Cream, will speak at the Coles College of Business ceremony on Tue., May 7, 10 a.m. and Jonathan McMurry, Associate Vice President for Research and Professor of Chemistry will speak at the Graduate College ceremony the same day at 7 p.m.

MERCER UNIVERSITY - Famed legal analyst and television host Nancy Grace, who earned her bachelor’s degree at the school, will speak at its ceremony for its Atlanta campus. The ceremony is scheduled for Sat., May 11, 8:30 a.m. on the lawn of the Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus in Atlanta. 

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 07: Television Host Nancy Grace attends the DailyMail.com & Elite Daily Holiday Party with Jason Derulo at Vandal on December 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for Daily Mail)
Photo: Rodney Ho/Radio and TV Talk

MOREHOUSE COLLEGE - Billionaire technology investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith will be the keynote speaker at its ceremony. Actress Angela Bassett will receive a honorary degree. The ceremony is scheduled for Sun., May 19, 8 a.m. on its campus.

Actress Angela Bassett smiles during a ceremony honoring her with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Thursday, March 20, 2008, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Photo: Shelia Poole/Atlanta Life and Culture Blog

MOREHOUSE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE - Dr. Patrice Harris, the first African American woman selected to lead the American Medical Association, is the scheduled speaker. The ceremony is set for Sat., May 18, 9 a.m. in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on the Morehouse College campus.

Patrice Harris, MD, at APA
Photo: David Hathcox/David Hathcox

MORRIS BROWN COLLEGE - Atlanta Hawks vice president and team icon Dominique Wilkins will be the speaker. The ceremony is scheduled for May 18, 4 p.m. at Big Bethel AME Church on Auburn Avenue.

Wilkins would eventually return to Atlanta and has become the face of the franchise - and his career ended nearly 20 years ago. (AJC file photo/Curtis Compton)

OGLETHORPE UNIVERSITY - Donald E. Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post, will be the speaker. The ceremony is scheduled for Sat., May 18, 9 a.m. on campus.


SPELMAN COLLEGE - Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will be the keynote speaker. The commencement is scheduled for Sun., May 19, 3 p.m. at the Georgia International Convention Center.

The Honorable Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor of Atlanta, speaks to the press after the State Of The City Business Breakfast at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on Tuesday March 14th, 2019. (Photo by Phil Skinner)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA - Loch Johnson, Regents Professor of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia, who is retiring this semester, will give the graduate address on Fri., May 10, 9 a.m. at Stegeman Coliseum on campus. ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts, an alumnus, will give the keynote speech for the undergraduate ceremony, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. The university announced on April 24 she’s giving $100,000 to create a needs-based scholarship.

... ABC News correspondent and UGA graduate Deborah Roberts and "Today" show weatherman Al Roker ...
Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH GEORGIA - Former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal will be one of three keynote speakers at its ceremonies. The others are Charles N. Davis, dean of the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and Joy Hawkins, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. The ceremonies are scheduled for Fri., May 3 at 6 p.m. and Sat., May 4 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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