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Motivational Speakers: Members Hit the Graduation Circuit

Harris, Booker, Flake and Warner among those sending off this spring’s graduates

Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine  and Mark Warner are both speaking at graduation ceremonies in their home state next month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine  and Mark Warner are both speaking at graduation ceremonies in their home state next month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Politicians, often blessed with the gift of the gab, are rarely shy about sharing stories about how they got to where they are.

And some of them will be sharing their wisdom and inspiration at graduation ceremonies, beginning next month. Students wrapping up their college or graduate school experiences can expect to hear about following their dreams or — considering the number of Trump critics among the speakers — what not to do. 

Some members will speak to graduates at their alma maters, while others are visiting schools in their states or districts. A couple will be speaking to students at Harvard. 


Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., will speak at Radford University’s spring commencement on May 5. Kaine graduated from the University of Missouri and Harvard Law.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., will deliver the commencement address at the University of California, Berkeley on May 12. Harris graduated from Howard University and the UC Hastings College of the Law, but her parents met as grad students at Berkeley.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., has two gigs this year on the same day. He will speak at Virginia State University’s afternoon commencement ceremony on May 12, and then give the keynote address at William & Mary. Warner graduated from George Washington University and Harvard Law.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., will be the commencement speaker at Kean University, a public university in New Jersey, on May 17. Booker graduated from Stanford, Oxford and Yale.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is not running for re-election this year, will speak at a ceremony at Harvard Law on May 23. Flake graduated from BYU with a master’s in political science.


Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., who is retiring after this term, will deliver the commencement address at Northeastern Illinois University on May 7. He graduated from the university in 1975.

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., will be the commencement speaker at the UCLA School of Law on May 11. Lieu graduated from Stanford and Georgetown Law.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., will speak at the commencement at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia, on May 12. Meadows graduated from the University of South Florida.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., will give the keynote address at Rollins College’s Hamilton Holt School commencement ceremony on May 12. Murphy graduated from William & Mary and Georgetown.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., will present the keynote speech at UC Hastings College of Law on May 12. Schiff graduated from Stanford and Harvard Law.

Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., who is retiring after this term, will speak at University of Massachusetts Lowell’s commencement on May 19. Tsongas graduated from Smith College and Boston University law school.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., will be the principal speaker at Harvard’s commencement on May 24. Lewis graduated from American Baptist Theological Seminary and Fisk University.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., will give the keynote address at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs commencement on June 15. Chu is a UCLA alumna, and earned her doctorate from the California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles.

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