Speakers & Honorees

2018 Commencement Speakers

Adriana Trigiani 

Best-Selling Author, Adriana TrigianiAdriana Trigiani is a best-selling author who has penned a host of books — perhaps none more popular than the novel Big Stone Gap which was made into a feature film starring Ashley Judd, Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Wilson, and Jenna Elfman. The story is set in the Virginia community where Adriana grew up.

She and Nancy Bolmeier founded and operate a writing program for elementary school-aged children in Southwest Virginia called The Origin Project. Ms. Trigiani has also written for television comedy and movies.

Gary Reedy

Gary Reedy will be the School of Health Sciences Commencement speaker.Gary Reedy (’78) has dedicated his life to improving the health of people worldwide. He took that vision to the American Cancer Society when he became the chief executive officer in April 2015, but his work with the organization truly began more than 15 years ago, when he first became a volunteer leader with the Society.

As CEO, Reedy is leading the organization to become the newAmerican Cancer Society – the most relevant and powerfully impactful cancer-fighting organization in the world. He has a laser focus on customer experience, stewardship and innovation. Under his leadership, the organization has set a historic goal to double its annual research funding to approximately $240 million by 2021. The increase aims to dramatically grow what is already the largest and arguably most successful nonprofit research program in the nation.