2020-2021 Commencement Speaker
Delivering the virtual commencement address to both the Class of 2020 and 2021 is award-winning author Min Jin Lee. Introducing the author is senior class president, Margot Robbins ’21 followed by a citation presented by assistant professor of history, Glenda Chao.
Introduction and Citation
Min Jin Lee Address to the Graduates
Award-winning Author Min Jin Lee to Address Classes of 2020 and 2021
Min Jin Lee, an acclaimed novelist known for her deeply impactful portrayals of immigration, prejudice and self-discovery, will virtually address the class of 2020 and 2021 during commencement weekend May 15-16, 2021. Her address will be available on the Commencement website.
“We are honored to welcome Min Jin Lee as our 2020 and 2021 commencement speaker,” said Mark Schneider, vice president of academic affairs and dean of Ursinus. “Lee’s work blends issues of power, racial stereotypes, culture and the sweep of national histories as they play out personally for her characters and their families, much as the Ursinus Quest: Open Questions Open Minds curriculum challenges our students to discover their own personal meaning in the complex interplay that characterizes 21st century life. With gripping words and cultural insights in her writing, Min’s cross-disciplinary academic background and novelistic method offer enduring wisdom for our graduates that beautifully ties together their academic experiences.” More Details
Min Jin Lee: You are more than a writer; you are a spiritual guide who takes your readers on journeys into the unseen worlds and interior lives of people who history has pushed aside. You are a champion for the silenced, and a keen and honest observer of the human condition. Your writing is emotional and complex, and it requires that we think about marginalized peoples in emotional and complex ways. Your words are an invitation to consider, to empathize, and to understand, and more than anything today, we need encouragement to do this work.
Your background informs your observations, and the humanity of your stories. A child of immigrants who emigrated to the United States at the age of seven, the daughter of a Korean War refugee who graduated first from Yale and then from Georgetown Law, a writer who has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard, and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and who was a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction, you embody both the struggles and the triumphs of the immigrant experience in the United States.
As a novelist, you bring your training as a historian to bear; you lived in Japan for nearly four years while writing Pachinko, interviewing Korean-Japanese men and women in order to get their stories right, and to show the world that historical victims can and do thrive. As an essayist, you speak directly and candidly of the pain of being othered, and you translate that pain into meaningful political dialogue. Finally, now, as a teacher, you are showing future generations of writers how to sensitively narrate complex identities, and how important perseverance is both to the craft of writing, and to the art of living.
President Blomberg, because she is a voice for the voiceless, a champion for the invisible, and a tireless teller of the truths through her art, I am honored to present Min Jin Lee so that you may confer upon her the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.