Kent State University, Spring 2017 University Commencement, May 13, 2017, Dix Stadium
From Jason Forbes
Academy Award-winning actress and author Octavia Spencer served as the keynote speaker for Kent State’s first One University Commencement Ceremony. Best known for critically acclaimed starring roles in films such as “The Help,” “Hidden Figures” and “The Shack,” Ms. Spencer is also the co-author of two children’s books. Her acting roles highlight stories of perseverance and tenacity that motivate and inspire audiences of all ages. Ms. Spencer’s mother, Dellsena, worked as a maid, and Ms. Spencer, the sixth of seven children, earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University. Ms. Spencer has said that she loved playing characters that have “a voice and an opinion” and were proactive in bringing about change in their communities, “ordinary women who were heroes.”
Ms. Spencer won the Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress as the feisty and unflappable Minny Jackson in the film “The Help.” She also received Academy Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for her most recent role as mathematician Dorothy Vaughan in the drama “Hidden Figures,” the true story of several African-American mathematicians at NASA who were critical to the success of the space race in the 1960s. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ms. Spencer bought out a Los Angeles screening of “Hidden Figures” to treat low-income families who would have otherwise not been able to see the film.
The One University Commencement Ceremony was in addition to the college ceremonies currently hosted each spring at the Regional and Kent campuses. At these college and Regional Campus ceremonies, students had the opportunity to be personally recognized as they crossed the graduation stage.