The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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2024 Commencement Speaker: Nadia Sasso ’11

Photo+Courtesy+of+Nadia+Sasso
Photo Courtesy of Nadia Sasso

Nadia Sasso ’11— a creative producer and digital storyteller whose work has been recognized by former President Barack Obama and former network news anchor Katie Couric, among others — will deliver the keynote address at Bucknell’s 174th Commencement.

Of the many valuable skills that Bucknell allowed Sasso to develop, the first thing that came to mind for her was how her time here facilitated development of an entrepreneurial spirit. Through her involvement in extracurriculars, she was able to develop many skills that would later translate into her career.

“This was the first time I was handling budgets of $30,000 or more, when putting together the Black Arts Festival, Stomp Out or step shows, and other major productions,” Sasso said. “At the time I just thought it was no big deal, but then you realize that people do this for a living. And I didn’t realize it until doing my resume… that these are very valuable experiences that could get you a great job.”

“I was so thankful to be able to have the opportunity to [be involved in] these organizations that mimic many companies or marketing departments or production departments,” Sasso continued.  “[It gave me] the confidence to go ahead and now pursue these things in my career.”

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One of Sasso’s most impactful academic experiences was one of the Inside-Out courses that Bucknell offers, where students are able to attend classes with incarcerated people within nearby prisons to further their understanding of the topic of that class.

“There was one class that I was particularly keen on, which was the Woman in the Penal System class with Carolyn Davis,” Sasso said. “You learn things, and you see them, and you might relate to them and understand it, but [once] you’re really in it, it all makes sense. That really changed a lot of things for me.”

Since graduating from Bucknell with a double major in English and Sociology with a concentration in media and culture, Sasso went on to earn a master of arts degree from Lehigh University and a Ph.D. from Cornell University, and now develops engaging, cross-platform creative cultural content that uses media as a storytelling tool to connect people around the world.

She is also furthering inclusivity in the entertainment industry through her app BlaytorBox, which connects companies, brands and filmmakers to Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) professionals working in creative fields. The BlaytorBox project earned her a semifinalist position for the Black Ambition Prize, which provides capital and resources to high-growth startups founded by Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs.

Sasso is also a documentary filmmaker who focuses on advocating for the Black experience in the United States. She made her creative debut in 2015 with the independent film Am I Too African to be American, Too American to be African, in which she produced and directed. The film featured Issa Rae and was celebrated for its impact on Afro-millennials around the world. Sasso was also a writing-room consultant and occasional host for the PBS show Say It Loud.

More recently, she released an experiential art campaign, #BCuzSheSaidSo, which featured her #13AlbumsTo31 Instagram visual social campaign to inspire Black women to be unapologetic about their identity.

“I wake up better every day, or just more activated to do things, when I know that it’s doing something beyond me,” Sasso said.

In preparing her speech for Commencement, Sasso wanted to make sure that she was able to reach as many people as possible: “I want to say that for the most part, the speech is all about tenacity. [It’s a skill that] you can build upon that can get you places, wherever that place is for you.”

“To be named Bucknell’s Commencement speaker is beyond an honor; it’s a homecoming. These halls taught me community, the arts, the language of business and, most importantly, that life is not about beginnings, but the grit that fuels your finish,” Sasso said. “Bucknell’s lessons haven’t just shaped me; they’ve equipped me. I am excited to celebrate with you and offer what I learned: Adversity refines, not defines.”

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About the Contributor
Kelsey Werkheiser
Kelsey Werkheiser, Print Managing Editor
Major: Creative Writing and Sociology '25 Hometown: Easton, PA

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