Howard University chose critically acclaimed actress and alumna Taraji P. Henson to serve as the spring 2022 commencement speaker. The 154th Commencement is the University’s first in-person graduation open to guests since 2020.
“We could not be more excited to have her join us in celebrating the graduating Class of 2022. Howard University will confer upon Henson the honorary doctorate of humane letters,” President Wayne A.I. Frederick shared in an email.
Henson studied theater in the College of Fine Arts before graduating in 1995. She has received numerous accolades for her acting performances, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance for an Actress in a Television Series and several NAACP Image Awards. Recently, Henson, along with basketball player Chris Paul, were appointed to the White House HBCU Initiative advisory board by President Joe Biden.
In addition to her accomplishments as an actress, Henson has also been recognized for her philanthropic work. In 2018, she founded the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF), a non-profit named after her father, a Vietnam War veteran. The foundation focuses on providing mental health resources to the Black community.
Graduating seniors expressed their excitement about Henson’s as the commencement speaker. “When I learned that Taraji P. Henson would serve as this year’s commencement speaker, I honestly felt complete. She was the first alumna I encountered on Howard’s campus. In 2018, my team, HU Speech & Debate, hosted a public debate forum in Cramton Auditorium. Taraji was in attendance, and she spoke to us about her undergraduate experiences,” said senior strategic, legal and management communication major Jayden Rush. “Her words of wisdom and encouragement helped me navigate college a great deal. So, this is truly a full-circle moment to see her again, only this time as a graduating senior.”
Henson expressed her gratitude for the University, as well as her excitement for the commencement ceremony.
“I am honored and humbled to be returning to my Alma Mater, Howard University, to deliver this year’s Commencement address to the graduating Class of 2022 and their families. Returning to Howard always feels like coming home, and I cannot wait to share this incredible moment with Howard students as they prepare to take the next step in their journeys to success,” said Henson.
Copy edited by Ashleigh Fields