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Commencement Speakers

World-renowned Explorer and Activist Wasfia Nazreen ’06 to Deliver the College’s 135th Commencement Address

The first Bengali and the only Bangladeshi to scale each of the Seven Summits, including Everest, Wasfia Nazreen is one of 18 women in history to have successfully ascended the world’s deadliest mountain K2. since its first ascent in 1954.

Agnes Scott College is proud to announce that Wasfia Nazreen will speak at the college’s 135th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11, 2024, at 9:15 a.m. A 2006 graduate of Agnes Scott, Nazreen will return to her alma mater to share her experiences as a world-class mountaineer and champion of social causes. She is also a global expeditions expert and the only woman to hold the dual titles of National Geographic Explorer and Adventurer.

A native of Bangladesh, Nazreen is a social advocate and trailblazing force of nature who has shattered countless barriers in her society and professional career. Sharing her firsthand account of being the first Bengali and the only Bangladeshi to scale the Seven Summits – alongside the treacherous K2, the world's most deadly and unpredictable mountain – is sure to inspire the graduating class.

“We are excited to welcome Wasfia back to Agnes Scott,” said Leocadia I. Zak, president of Agnes Scott College. “Her spirit captures the persona of the Agnes Scott student – an enterprising and intellectually curious individual who is a global thinker grounded and connected to the social issues of today.”

Nazreen’s early life was marked by tragedy and struggle, as her mother abandoned her at the age of 13. In her early twenties, while working with Tibetan refugees in the Himalayas, she was fortunate to develop a friendship with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, whose compassion and guidance altered the course of her life. She has since used adversity to lead transformative journeys into nature, forging connections with self, humanity and the Earth and catalyzing positive change for the planet.

“Returning to Agnes Scott to share a bit of my experiences on this special occasion is truly humbling and an honor of a lifetime,” said Nazreen. The years I spent here not only helped shape my perception of the world but, most importantly, they shaped the vision I had of myself and who I wanted to be in this world. I am so honored and grateful to have this opportunity to impart hope, courage and hopefully some wisdom to my Scottie siblings—the next generation of global agents of change.”

A passionate advocate and symbol of empowerment and change in South Asia, and the world, Nazreen has been a vocal proponent of human rights and environmental causes. Amongst other projects, she is working on her memoir and a film on her K2 conquest. Watch the award-winning short film “Wasfia” on National Geographic, available at, for a glimpse into her extraordinary life.

Joining Nazreen on stage will be this year's student speaker, EV McGovern, who was selected to address the graduating class through a competitive process. McGovern currently serves as president of the Student Government Association. In describing their time at the college, McGovern said “I have worked to connect with every corner of Agnes through my academic career, roles in student leadership and everyday conversations on campus.”

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