2018 Commencement Speaker and Baccalaureate Speaker


Jennifer Nettles ’97

Portrait of Jennifer Nettles

Jennifer Nettles ’97
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An admired and animated performer, Jennifer Nettles ’97 is a superstar entertainer on multiple platforms. ASCAP has honored her songwriting prowess with five awards in addition to earning both an Academy of Country Music Award and a Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year for “Stay.” The emotionally charged, platinum No. 1 hit also earned Nettles two Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group. As the first female artist to be the solo songwriter on an ACM Awards Song of the Year winner since 1972, Nettles was acknowledged with a Crystal Milestone Award. Leading with her powerhouse vocals and vivacious energy, Nettles released two critically acclaimed Big Machine Records’ albums—“Playing With Fire” and “To Celebrate Christmas”—in addition to performing in back-to-back headline tours in 2016 alone, followed by a run of holiday-themed dates. With Nettles as one half of the multi-platinum duo Sugarland alongside Kristian Bush, the duo recently released their first new music in seven years with “Still the Same,” setting the tone for their joint venture with Big Machine Records and UMG Nashville. Sugarland is back in the studio working on their new album and will embark on their headlining Still the Same 2018 Tour this summer.

As an actress, Nettles made her Broadway debut in 2015 as Roxy Hart in the Tony Award-winning, record-breaking musical “Chicago” and most recently starred as Donna in the Hollywood Bowl’s summer production of “Mamma Mia!” In 2016, in television, she reprised her role as Dolly Parton’s mom Avie Lee Parton in the Emmy-nominated holiday-themed sequel to the ratings success “Coat of Many Colors,” “Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love.”

Rev. Julia Sierra Reyes ’08

Portrait of Reverend Julia Reyes ’08
Rev. Julia Sierra Reyes ’08
The Rev. Julia Sierra Reyes ’08 is the rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Denver, Colorado. She is the first woman and person of color to serve as senior pastor in the church’s 128-year history. Prior to accepting the call to St. Luke’s, Reyes was the associate rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Savannah, Georgia, the first house of worship established in the state of Georgia.

Reyes holds degrees from Agnes Scott College and Harvard University. At Agnes Scott, where she majored in religion/social justice and Africana studies, she was encouraged and inspired by college faculty. Agnes Scott’s global consciousness led her to travel in Tanzania and South Africa, where she spent her junior year abroad studying at the University of Cape Town. She was awarded the Suzanne Goodman Elson Prize upon graduating in 2008.

Reyes earned her Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, where she received the Williams Scholarship Fund and the prestigious Hopkins Shareholder Award, in recognition of her ministerial promise. In 2009, she was elected as student government president of Harvard Divinity School. In that year, two Agnes Scott alumnae served as student-body presidents of their respective Harvard University graduate schools.

Not a day goes by that Reyes does not think of Agnes Scott and how the school has shaped her career and personhood.