World-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator Nikki Giovanni will be the university’s 2012 Commencement speaker. During the ceremony, she will be awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.
Nikki Giovanni is University Distinguished Professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
Shenandoah University announces world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator Nikki Giovanni as the university’s 2012 Commencement speaker. During the ceremony, she will be awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters. Giovanni last visited Shenandoah in 1994, when she spoke on “The Responsibility to Dream.”
“We are so pleased and honored to have Ms. Giovanni serve as our speaker during this year’s Commencement ceremony,” said President Tracy Fitzsimmons. “Through her writing and her outreach, she is a shining example to our graduates. Witnessing an address from an individual of this magnitude will surely be an invaluable experience for all who attend our 2012 Commencement exercises.”
Shenandoah University’s May Commencement Ceremony will be held at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at the Smith Library Plaza, located on the main campus of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. The rain date for the ceremony will be Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 10 a.m.
According to Giovanni’s biography listed on Virginia Tech’s website, she is one of the most widely read American poets, Giovanni prides herself on being “a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English.” The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
She published her first book of poetry, “Black Feeling Black Talk,” in 1968, and within the next year published a second book, thus launching her career as a writer. Early in her career she was dubbed the “Princess of Black Poetry,” and over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing she has come to be called both a “National Treasure” and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends.”
Many of Giovanni’s books have received honors and awards:
- Her autobiography, “Gemini,” was a finalist for the National Book Award.
- “Love Poems,” “Blues: For All the Changes,” “Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea,” “Acolytes” and “Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat” were all honored with NAACP Image Awards.
- “Blues: For All the Changes reached” No. 4 on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller list, a rare achievement for a book of poems.
- Her children’s picture book, “Rosa,” about the civil rights legend Rosa Parks, became a Caldecott Honors Book, and Bryan Collier, the illustrator, was given the Coretta Scott King award for best illustration. “Rosa” also reached No. 3 on The New York Times Bestseller list.
Giovanni’s spoken word recordings have also achieved widespread recognition and honors. Her Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, on which she reads and talks about her poetry, was one of five finalists for a Grammy Award.
The recipient of some twenty-five honorary degrees, Giovanni has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal and Ebony Magazine. She was tapped for the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame and named an Outstanding Woman of Tennessee. Giovanni has also received Governor’s Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia.
Giovanni was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and she has also been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and has received Life Membership and Scroll from The National Council of Negro Women. A member of PEN, she was honored for her life and career by The History Makers. Black Enterprise named her a Women of Power Legacy Award winner for work that expands opportunities for other women of color.
Giovanni graduated with honors from Fisk University in 1968 and attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.