University announces Commencement Speaker for Class of 2020

Sam Rosenblatt, Editor-in-Chief

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On Wednesday, Nov. 20, students learned that Carolyn Speer Miles ’83, P ’14, will give the keynote address at the Class of 2020’s Commencement ceremony. Miles currently serves as the president and chief executive officer of Save the Children, a nonprofit that works to improve children’s lives and provide emergency aid for youth in areas of crisis. Save the Children serves roughly 130 million children in the United States and abroad. 

The Class of 2020 learned first of this news via an email from Class President Arianne Evans ’20 on Wednesday afternoon. Shortly after, University President John Bravman notified the entire campus community. 

Miles studied animal behavior while at the University before transitioning to a business career. This included working for American Express in Hong Kong and as an entrepreneur in Asia. According to Evans’ and Bravman’s announcement, Miles was inspired by the childhood poverty she witnessed in Asia to transition to move to the public sector. In 1998, Miles began her career with Save the Children. 

“As a graduate of the University, she sets an especially meaningful example of inspiration, achievement and purpose,” Evans said. “I believe her message will no doubt resonate with our senior class as we seek to do the same in the next chapter of our lives.”

In 2015, Miles was named by Fortune magazine as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. She also received the Jonathan Daniels Humanitarian Award from Virginia Military Institute earlier this year. Miles will step down from her position as CEO this coming January. 

“I thank and congratulate the officers of the Class of 2020 for their outstanding choice of Ms. Miles as Commencement speaker,” Bravman said. “We eagerly anticipate her return to her alma mater to share what will surely be an especially meaningful message for our newest graduates.”

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