Melissa Harris-Perry delivered the 2012 Commencement address at Wellesley College.

President H. Kim Bottomly offered her charge to the the 600 members of the Class of 2012 and welcomed an international audience of their families and friends at Wellesley College’s 134th Commencement Exercises Friday, May 25, 2012 at 10:30 am. She alsod introduce Tulane University professor of political science, author, Nation columnist, MSNBC host, and rising “nerdland” icon Melissa Harris-Perry, who addressed the graduates.

Regarding the choice of Harris-Perry, President Bottomly said, “Each year, Wellesley’s graduating seniors, who are ready and eager to make their mark, express their sense of the times, engagement with the world, and openness to inspiration in the selection of their Commencement speaker. Wellesley’s 2012 seniors are making an important statement by inviting Melissa Harris-Perry to address the class. It’s clear that they value the need to support and be supported by each other—smart, empowered women who are boldly, and thoughtfully, pioneering every platform.” President Bottomly added, “Melissa Harris-Perry is the kind of leader that Wellesley women admire, and we are honored and excited to welcome her to Wellesley.”

Read more about Harris-Perry from the press release or her own website.

Student Speakers

The graduating class and its supporters also heard a few words from the senior class president, Kate Leonard, who introduced Haley Harris, the senior speaker selected by Senior Class Council.

Leonard, a cinema and media studies major and women's and gender studies minor from Rochester, N.Y., was the Senior Class Council president, and president of the Film Society at Wellesley College. She has interned for the New York Television Festival and worked for the Wellesley College Department of Art and for New Directions in Documentary Film Festival and Symposium.

Harris, a French major and economics minor from Wilmette, Ill., was president of Wellesley's improv troupe, Dead Serious. She studied at the Université de Provence Aix-Marseille, and has interned at the Mayor's Press Office for the City of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.