Student and Faculty Speakers - Commencement Weekend 2018

Dear Members of the Puget Sound Campus Community:

I am pleased to announce the student and faculty speakers who will celebrate the Puget Sound Class of 2018.

The selection committees have named:

  • Grace Friedman ’18 as the Academic Convocation student speaker
  • Geoffrey Block, distinguished professor of music history, as the Academic Convocation faculty speaker
  • Jordan Fonseca ’18 as the Commencement student speaker

Academic Convocation speaker Grace Friedman, from Alameda, Calif., will graduate with a major in psychology and a minor in communication studies. Grace’s Puget Sound journey is one of transformation, challenge, and success. Through her work with peers, stakeholders, and communities beyond campus, Grace shares stories about Puget Sound that speak to social and academic structures filled with warmth, compassion, understanding, guidance, and inspiration without judgement. Building on experiences as a peer advisor, public speaker, blogger, author, and client of the Office of Student Accessibility and Accommodation, Grace seeks to call the Puget Sound community “to build our own runways and take flight.” Grace’s Academic Convocation address reframes the university motto “To the heights” to recognize Puget Sound’s role in “Building Runways and Taking Flight.”

Distinguished Professor of Music History Geoffrey Block (Ph.D., Harvard University) will deliver the Academic Convocation address, “By Your Pupils You’ll Be Taught.” A longtime member of the Puget Sound faculty, Professor Block’s contributions to musical scholarship are profound. He is known for his research on Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Charles Ives, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Broadway musical, especially the musicals and the life of Richard Rodgers. In 2008 he earned the title of Distinguished Professor, and he has written and contributed to several academic volumes. Professor Block, at his core, is a faculty member devoted to and passionate about teaching excellence. He speaks with intensity about teaching pedagogy and student growth. At the end of the academic year, after nearly 40 years at Puget Sound, he will scale back to part-time teaching in order to devote himself fully to writing.

Commencement speaker Jordan Fonseca, from Albuquerque, N.M., will graduate with majors in physics and mathematics. During his time at Puget Sound, Jordan has shared his love of learning by working in the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching as a subject tutor, writing advisor, and member of the Peer Academic Consulting team; by facilitating a study hall through Freedom Education Project Puget Sound; and by volunteering within local school districts and community organizations. Jordan’s interest in helping writing centers reach out to science students inspired him to conduct independent writing center research, which he presented at the 2017 National Conference for Peer Tutoring and Writing at Hofstra University in New York. He has since participated in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Washington, worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and undertaken summer research in the Puget Sound physics department, for which he received a Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention. For the past two years, Jordan has collaborated with other Puget Sound students to compete in the international Mathematical Contest in Modeling, a four-day competition for which teams solve a real-world problem using math modeling and then write about their solution. In 2017 Jordan, Jesse Jenks ’18, and Matthew Moreno ’17 placed in the top 11 out of more than 1,500 submissions and were recognized in a Seattle Times article. Jordan is in the Honors Program and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Pi Sigma, Pi Mu Epsilon, and Mortar Board honor societies. Jordan’s Commencement address is titled “The Problem With Problematizing, and What Comes Next.”

Academic Convocation takes place on Saturday, May 12 at 2 p.m. in Schneebeck Concert Hall. Puget Sound’s 126th Commencement Ceremony will convene on Sunday, May 13 at 2 p.m. in Baker Stadium.

Please join with me in congratulating and expressing appreciation to Grace, Jordan, and Professor Block.


Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. |  President