Baccalaureate speaker Eduardo Bhatia ’86 in the University Chapel
Office of Communications/Denise Applewhite

This spring, Princeton alumni spoke at commencement ceremonies and received honorary degrees at colleges around the U.S. and abroad. Follow the links below to read more about these distinguished speakers and honorees.

At Princeton’s Baccalaureate, Eduardo Bhatia ’86, minority leader and former president of the senate of Puerto Rico, spoke passionately about the humanitarian crisis that the island endured following the devastating damage from Hurricane Maria last year. He urged graduates to carry forward the spirit of Princeton’s Honor Code and “hold everyone else to your high standards.” —

Genomics pioneer Eric Lander ’78 told Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduates that while progress in the lab may seem slow from week to week, “it’s breathtaking what can happen over the course of a decade or two.” Future progress, he said, will depend on “three sacred commitments”: a commitment to facts; a commitment to people and inclusivity; and a commitment to social responsibility. — Rensselaer

At Washington University in St. Louis, New America CEO and former State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80 told the Class of 2018 that it was “graduating at a time of deep disquiet about the future.” She urged graduates to work to renew the economy and the “social infrastructure that supports it.” American renewal, she said, “is happening from the bottom up and the heartland out.” — Washington University in St. Louis

Olympic speed-skating gold medalist Joey Cheek ’11 spoke at commencement for the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, urging graduates to find meaningful pursuits. “The thing that you’re meant to do is the thing you wake up thinking about,” he said. “It’s the thing your mind wanders to when no one else is around.” — Greensboro News & Record

Reinabelle Reyes *11 delivered the commencement address at Ateneo de Davao University in the Philippines, where she preached patience and perseverance in an instant-gratification world: “You can add a friend on Facebook instantly, but real friendships take time. You can get a date on Tinder instantly, but relationships take time. You can download course materials from Coursera instantly, but learning something deeply and becoming good at it — becoming great — takes time.” Business Mirror

Other alumni receiving honorary degrees this spring included W. Taylor Reveley III ’65, the outgoing president of William & Mary; Mellody Hobson ’91, the president of Ariel Investments (Johns Hopkins); and Peter Suedfeld *63, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia (University of Nîmes).