Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69 Will Deliver the 2017 Commencement Address

Hillary Rodham Clinton will address the members of the Wellesley College Class of 2017 and an international audience of their family and friends at Wellesley’s 139th commencement exercises on Friday, May 26, at 10:30 am.

About Hillary Rodham Clinton

From First Lady, to U.S. Senator, to Secretary of State, Clinton’s years of service to the country have made her one of the most prominent political leaders of our time. Clinton’s historic run for the White House in 2016 brought women’s leadership, women’s rights, the gender pay gap, and other issues central to gender equality into the global spotlight like never before. Her longtime and outspoken support for women’s rights—she famously said “women’s rights are human rights”—earned her the admiration of women and girls across the world.

Clinton has kept strong ties to the College that had a powerful influence on her political worldview—classmates have described her as a consensus builder, a listener, and a true leader at a tumultuous time. She has also remained close to her friends from Wellesley, many of whom have supported her political aspirations since she ran for student government president. This is not the first time Clinton has been asked to deliver a commencement address at her alma mater. She previously gave the commencement address in 1992, and in 1969 she was the College’s first-ever student commencement speaker.

The story of Clinton’s rise to some of the highest positions in government is often linked to her Wellesley years and how the College cultivated her approach to leadership, which placed the greatest emphasis not on power but on participation and helping others. Clinton has said that Wellesley prepared her “to take on some of the rough-and-tumble” of a life in politics, and taught her “if you get knocked down, get back up.”

During the presidential campaign, her 1969 student commencement speech, which launched her into the national spotlight, became a touchstone for media narratives about Hillary Rodham’s political, ideological, and rhetorical formation. More recently, she has said of Wellesley, “It is a special place. It helps women discover our talents; it gives us the freedom to set our own paths; it shows women that when we work hard and stay true to our values, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.”