Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, will deliver the 2013 Commencement address to graduating students on May 19, Boston University officials announced at the annual senior breakfast Friday morning.
“I wanted to have someone as our commencement speaker that has made a huge impact through what she has done coming out with an undergraduate degree, and you’ll hear from Wendy Kopp,” said BU President Robert Brown in his announcement.
Kopp founded Teach for America in 1989 as an organization where recent college graduates teach for two years in low-income communities. Currently, she serves as chair of the board of Teach for America.
Kopp is also CEO and co-founder of Teach for All, a network of enterprises that recruit future leaders to teach for two years in high-need areas.
College of Arts and Sciences senior Cassandra Castillo, one of BU’s three campus Teach for America representatives, said she is glad Kopp will be speaking at Commencement.
“She’ll have a lot of good stuff to say,” Castillo said. “She’s very accomplished.”
Castillo said about 20 BU students from the Class of 2013 are participating in the program Kopp founded.
“She started Teach for America to send teachers into low-income communities, and they’re not necessarily education students,” she said. “It could be college students from any major to teach for a two-year commitment.”
Brown said honorary degrees will be awarded to actor Morgan Freeman, engineer and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Robert Langer and former BU Trustee Bishop Peter Weaver, who will speak at the Baccalaureate service.
While Boston Mayor Thomas Menino received an honorary degree from BU in 2001, he will also be honored during Commencement as 2013 marks the end of his final mayoral term, Brown said.
This senior breakfast was the most successful ever with more than 2,200 students in attendance, said Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore during the breakfast.
Elmore fulfilled his promised to jump into the Charles River following the breakfast.
Senior Class Gift Committee Co-Chair Mike DeFilippis said Elmore had pledged to jump in the river if at least 2,013 donors contributed to the class gift. DeFilippis and Lindsey Garber, the other committee co-chair, promised to join Elmore if the total donors reached 2,236.
DeFilippis said Elmore also jumped in the river for the Class of 2011.
“The important thing about the river jump, in particular, is that we have a chance to start a tradition,” DeFilippis, a College of Communication senior, said. “… I hope, if we do continue this, the Class of 2014 will follow in our footsteps, and this will be one of the things the quirky and amazing Class of 2013 is known for.”
Brown acknowledged the students the Class of 2013 lost, including CAS senior Binland Lee, who died in a house fire in Allston Sunday, and CAS graduate student Lingzi Lu, who died in the Boston Marathon Bombings April 15.
“This morning as you go forward, I hope that you will reflect on how precious life is and how short our time on this earth can be,” he said. “This year, we have lost wonderful members of our community who would have been with you at commencement.”
The Class of 2013 also lost Austin Brashears, who would have graduated from CAS, and Daniela Leknho, who would have graduated from the School of Management. Both were killed in a car accident in New Zealand in May 2012.
“I hope you’ll always remember these young and exciting students and colleagues, and I hope you’ll hold your friends and your family close, because they are the foundation of the journey you will begin in two weeks,” he said.
SMG senior Dylan Duzey said he was pleased to see Brown recognize those students lost before graduation.
“You lose any member of a graduating class and it’s a big loss to the community,” he said. “It’s very important to recognize them and all the hard work that they had to put in.”
Duzey said he believes the Senior Breakfast is an appropriate tradition to raise spirit as graduation approaches.
“You can feel it that everyone is excited to graduate,” he said. “It’s going to be a good couple of weeks coming up.”