Michelle Au ’99 will deliver the College’s commencement address on May 17

Michelle Au
Author  Christopher Hennessy
Published on 

Wellesley, Mass.—Michelle Au, a member of the Georgia House of Representatives and a physician, author, and strong gun safety advocate, will deliver the commencement address at Wellesley College’s 146th commencement ceremony on Friday, May 17.

The event will take place at 10:30 a.m. on the Wellesley College campus, and it will be livestreamed on the Wellesley Live website.

Au, who graduated from Wellesley in 1999, serves Georgia’s 50th House District and previously was a member of the Georgia State Senate, where she was that body’s first East Asian member and first Asian woman. An anesthesiologist in Atlanta, Au worked on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, Au participated in Wellesley’s summit on renewing democracy, where she shared her journey to becoming a public servant, describing her realization that as a policy-maker she could work to fix the health care system to help her patients and all Georgians.

In announcing Wellesley’s commencement speaker, Wellesley College President Paula A. Johnson said, “Michelle Au lives her life in service to others while seeking to bridge differences in the pursuit of a common goal. She is a natural leader who stepped up when she saw change was needed for her community and her state. She exemplifies the power and purpose of a Wellesley alumna, and I know her story and her message will inspire our graduates.”

In her work as an elected official, Au, a Democrat, has framed the issue of gun violence as a health epidemic for children and worked alongside Republicans on what she called the Safe Storage Tax Credit Act. Earlier this year, she wrote an op-ed for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the need for bipartisan action to expand Medicaid, arguing it would help “restore voters’ faith and improve health outcomes.”

Among her legislative accomplishments in her first term in the Georgia House of Representatives, she wrote the first gun safety legislation to pass out of the House and be considered by the State Senate in more than two decades. In addition, her Pediatric Health Safe Storage Act became the first substantive gun safety legislation to get a subcommittee hearing in the Georgia General Assembly in six years. In recognition of her strong advocacy in the State Senate, she was named 2022 State Legislator of the Year by both Everytown/Moms Demand Action and the Georgia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Au has been a passionate supporter of Georgia’s Asian American and Pacific Islanders’ (AAPI) rights and concerns. The tragic Atlanta-area mass shooting that killed eight people, including six Asian American women, on March 16, 2021, brought national attention to the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in Georgia and across the country. In a floor speech just one day before the shooting, Au had called on her fellow senators to “fully consider us as part of our communities” and “recognize that we need help, we need protection, and we need people in power to stand up for us against hate.” Since then, she has helped form the bipartisan General Assembly AAPI Caucus, the largest state AAPI caucus in the continental U.S., which she chairs.

Au serves on the House committees for budget and fiscal affairs oversight, public health, and special rules, and she co-chairs the bipartisan General Assembly Working Group on Addiction and Recovery.

The mother of three children, Au is the author of This Won’t Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies): My Education in Medicine and Motherhood. She also created “Scutmonkey” (slang for a new medical student), a series of comics inspired by the absurdity of the medical education process, which have been published and presented in journals and at medical conferences around the world.

A second-generation Chinese American, Au grew up in New York City, where she attended public schools. At Wellesley, she wrote for the Wellesley News and served in college government. She graduated magna cum laude in 1999 and earned her medical degree in 2003 from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She also holds a master’s of public health from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and was part of the Georgia Physicians Leadership Academy through the Medical Association of Georgia.