Soledad O’Brien, Emmy-winning journalist and CNN special correspondent, delivered remarks at the college’s 124th Commencement on May 11.
Agnes Scott’s class of 2013 included 187 graduates, ranging in age from 20 to 52 years and hailing from 34 states and 12 countries.
O’Brien encouraged graduates not to listen to naysayers and to follow their instincts about how to live and inspire positive change. She recounted the tale of how her Cuban black mother and Australian white father had met in Baltimore, fallen in love, and married in 1958 despite a law against interracial marriage and despite the disapproval of society at the time.
O’Brien said her mother advised that “most people are idiots” and their views shouldn’t hold you back from doing what you feel is right.
“As you leave here, over the next few years, you’ll be told all the things you cannot do, cannot achieve and those things you absolutely, positively will fail in. Please do not listen … if you listen to those naysayers, then you’re the bigger idiot,” O’Brien said.
As strong women and college graduates, she told the graduates, “You have an opportunity to be a role model to those who look like you and those who look nothing like you.”
O’Brien was awarded an honorary degree for her distinguished career as a broadcast journalist, trailblazing documentaries about race, ethnicity and American identity and personal philanthropic commitment to the education and empowerment of young women.
Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location – offering myriad cultural and experiential learning opportunities. A diverse and growing residential community of scholars, this highly selective liberal arts and sciences college is known for its dynamic and challenging intellectual community. Encouraging students to engage the wider world through study abroad and presenting its curriculum with international context, Agnes Scott College delivers on its promise: The World. For Women.