For this year’s commencement ceremony, author and journalist A’lelia Bundles is the honorary commencement speaker. Bundles has accomplished what many can only dream of doing.
For thirty years, Bundles worked as a television news executive and producer at NBC News and ABC News, and is also the author of four books. As stated in the bio on her website, she is currently chairman of the board of the National Archives Foundation, a Columbia University trustee, and on the advisory boards of the March on Washington Film Festival and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study’s Schlesinger Library at Harvard.
Over the years, she has given hundreds of speeches to students of all ages from kindergarten to graduate school. Bundles admitted that she does not feel nervous giving speeches.
“A dear friend who did a great deal of public speaking once told me that the best way to give a speech is to approach it as a conversation with the audience,” she stated. “His advice was to talk about what you know and to tell stories about people and experiences to illustrate your points. Finding some common ground with the audience helps break the ice.”
Bundles plans to come to campus the day before graduation to meet some of the graduates, and hear about their experiences at Wilson and hopes for the future. She has also been planning her speech since first learning that she would be speaking.
“I’ve been thinking about what I wish someone had told me at 22 and what I wish I’d known about life’s twists and turns, as well as life’s unexpected joys and discoveries,” Bundles noted, when asked about what she planned to discuss.
“I hope I can share some advice from lessons I’ve learned in my career journey and in my personal relationships,” she stated. “Some of the things I’ll probably talk about are the importance of friendships, about being prepared for opportunities, about knowing history and keeping up with current events, about striving for excellence, about volunteering one’s time, about leadership and generosity, [and] about approaching other people with kindness.”
As a final comment, Bundles stated, “I’m looking forward to my visit to Wilson and hoping for perfect weather!”
To find out more about A’lelia before commencement, visit her website.