Singer-Songwriter Jennifer Nettles ’97 to Deliver 2018 Commencement Address at Agnes Scott College



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Jennifer Nettles
Jennifer Nettles ’97
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Singer-songwriter Jennifer Nettles ’97 will deliver the commencement address at Agnes Scott College’s 129th graduation on May 12 at 9:30 a.m. on the Presser Quadrangle. She will receive an honorary degree at the ceremony.

An admired and animated performer, Jennifer Nettles 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 and 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, she was acknowledged with a Crystal Milestone Award. Leading with her powerhouse vocals and vivacious energy, she released two critically acclaimed Big Machine Records’ albums — Playing With Fire and “To Celebrate Christmas.” 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.” 

“We’re absolutely excited to have Jennifer Nettles speak to our 2018 graduates. With her many achievements and noteworthy contributions to the world of music, she is an exemplary and inspirational model for our seniors of a Scottie finding her passion and fiercely and bravely blazing her own path. As one of our outstanding alumnae, it is also particularly meaningful to have her speak at my last commencement,” said Elizabeth Kiss, president of Agnes Scott, who will be stepping down from her role and joining the Rhodes Trust in August as its first female CEO and warden of Rhodes House.

Agnes Scott’s Baccalaureate Vespers service will be held on Friday, May 11, at 4:30 p.m. in Gaines Chapel on the campus. The Reverend Julia Wilkinson Reyes ’08, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Denver, Colorado, will bring the message to graduates this year. Baccalaureate is a multifaith worship service providing an opportunity for graduates and their families to pause and reflect as they prepare to begin the next chapter of their lives.

Rev. Julia Reyes
Rev. Julia Reyes ’08

Reyes is the first woman and person of color to serve as senior pastor in St. Luke’s Episcopal 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. She holds degrees from Agnes Scott College, where she was awarded the Suzanne Goodman Elson Prize and studied abroad at the University of Cape Town, and Harvard University, where she earned her Master of Divinity and received the prestigious Hopkins Shareholder Award, in recognition of her ministerial promise. A Williams Scholarship Fund recipient, she was elected president of the Student Government Association at Harvard Divinity School.

“It is an incredible honor to welcome Julia, another remarkable alumna, back to our campus to provide guiding words to our seniors before they embark on the next chapter of their lives,” said President Kiss. “We’re looking forward to her sharing what we know will be a memorable and powerful message that they will carry with them beyond graduation.”




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 social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.