Dear Members of the Campus Community,

I am pleased to announce the student and faculty speakers who will celebrate the Puget Sound Class of 2021. We are also delighted to announce that Simone Moore ’20, our 2020 Commencement undergraduate student speaker, will return to campus to deliver her address in person to the Class of 2020.

For 2021, the selection committees have named:

Dexter Gordon, distinguished professor and director of the African American Studies program and the Race and Pedagogy Institute, as the Academic Convocation faculty speaker

Natalie Willoughby ’21 as the 2021 Convocation student speaker

Bailey Gamel ’21 as the 2021 Commencement undergraduate student speaker

Ashley Chan, MSOT ’21 as the 2021 Commencement graduate student speaker

Commencement 2020 Undergraduate Student Speaker – Simone Moore
Simone Moore, from San Francisco, California, graduated with a B.A. in Psychology, a minor in Neuroscience, and an interdisciplinary emphasis in Bioethics. In her time at Puget Sound, Simone served as Vice President of the Associated Students of Puget Sound (ASUPS), as the founding president of Visible Spectrum (a club that supports students of color interested in science, technology, engineering, and math fields), as a four-year member of the Adelphian Concert Choir, as Editorial Director of the Sound Decisions Bioethics journal, and as a speech consultant in the inaugural cohort for the Center for Speech and Effective Advocacy. Participating in student government, she held several positions, including chair of Peer Board and justice for Honor Court, and was a student representative on multiple university committees. She graduated as a member of the first Posse cohort at Puget Sound and has recently worked with a non-profit to help students in under-resourced schools with literacy. In her Commencement address, Simone will encourage us to consider what we owe one another, from one human being to another, sharing a moment in time on this earth. 

Academic Convocation 2021 Faculty Speaker – Dr. Dexter Gordon
Distinguished Professor Dexter Gordon will deliver the Academic Convocation address during the virtual Academic Convocation ceremony on May 15, 2021. Students nominated Dr. Gordon to speak at convocation because, “He represents the class of 2021, in many ways including intelligence, integrity, diversity, and excellence,” and, “His love for the students, especially in humanizing their experiences, has proved salient in our class' ability to feel engaged and held as we mobilize in both our academic and personal lives.” Dr. Gordon teaches rhetoric, media, culture, and African American studies. He is director of the African American Studies Program as well as the Race and Pedagogy Institute. The Institute exemplifies Dr. Gordon’s critical and educational commitments, with a mission to educate students and teachers at all levels to think critically about race, cultivate terms and practices for societal transformation, and act to eliminate racism. This mission is in pursuit of a vision of realizing a society where the systemic causes of racism have been uprooted. We are energized to reimagine a world-oriented toward a shared experience of liberation. To work effectively, the Race and Pedagogy Institute connects campus and community as reciprocal partners working to eliminate inequities in education. Dr. Gordon holds a B.A. in Theology (Jamaica Theological Seminary), an M.A. in Communication Ethics (Wheaton College), and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Culture (Indiana University). His scholarly work explores the themes of public discourse; social theory; and social, intellectual, and political history. In his book, Black Identity: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Nineteenth-Century Black Nationalism (2003), Dr. Gordon advocates for a critical reconstruction of historical memory that would understand Black identity and help initiate a movement toward redemption and repair. His work has also included various community organizations and educational institutions, including the Washington State Superior Court and the Washington Correctional Center for Women, Blacks in Government, University of Washington, Lewis and Clark College, Evergreen State College, and the Tacoma Urban League.

Academic Convocation 2021 Student Speaker - Natalie Willoughby
Natalie Willoughby, from Boise, Idaho, will graduate with majors in both Communication Studies and Politics and Government. When you can hear Natalie speak, it is clear how these disciplines have intersected for her at Puget Sound. An exceptional public speaker, Natalie has participated on the campus debate team for four years, serving as president for two years. She has been an active campus community member, serving on the Resident Hall Association Board, working as Editor-In-Chief of the gender and identity-based campus publication Wetlands Magazine, and currently serving as treasurer of the Beta-Coders Computer Science Club, all while working on her Honors thesis. Her research was awarded the T.A. Davis Summer Research Award for 2020 and resulted in her thesis, “Intersectionality in Digital Activism.” Although her personal academic pursuits have been broad, she has never lost her dedication to the idea that every individual has the potential to make positive change in their own community. Natalie will speak on the uncertainty and promise of continuing down the path of hard questions at virtual Academic Convocation 2021 on May 15 at 1:00 pm.

Commencement 2021 Undergraduate Student Speaker – Bailey Gamel
From Denver, Colorado, Bailey Gamel will graduate with a B.A. in Communication Studies and a minor in Sociology and Anthropology. During her time at Puget Sound, she has pursued a wide variety of interdisciplinary activities motivated by a voracious desire to engage in self-directed and collaborative learning.  Bailey’s extensive co-curricular activities include leadership as an ASUPS senator; membership in the Jewish Student Union, Prism, Pre-Law Society, and the Sociology and Anthropology Student Association; and regular contributions as a writer for The Trail and other student publications. She demonstrates her deep desire to engage with peers and mentors to be an agent for positive change, working on multiple projects aimed at increasing student support on campus, including creating a proposal to convert Warner gym to a student support center, creating a Facebook group to keep students across the country connected during the pandemic, and being a vocal advocate for supporting students through this difficult year as a member of the COVID-19 Student Advisory Group. Praised by faculty for her “unyielding commitment to social justice,” Bailey’s speech will inspire us to think of a future where University of Puget Sound graduates are shaping the world with the same dedication, passion, and love that unites us here.

Commencement 2021 Graduate Student Speaker – Ashley Chan
Ashley Chan graduates with her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, coming to Puget Sound in 2019 after graduating summa cum laude from San Francisco State University with a B.S. in Kinesiology. She has profoundly impacted her program and our campus community as a member of the Student Occupational Therapy Association, serving on the Fundraising Committee, and as a Student Ambassador for School of Occupational Therapy (OT) prospective student events. She organized a team to participate in the intramural volleyball program on campus and attends numerous events within the School of OT and campus-wide. Ashley is committed to using her Puget Sound education to advocate for increased diversity in occupational therapy and has put that mission into practice with her experiential learning in context project to develop materials for high school health profession career fairs to recruit and mentor prospective students of color. Ashley’s ability to connect deeply with all those lucky enough to work with her is a trait the Occupational Therapy faculty have noted will serve her well in the future, and the Puget Sound community has been fortunate to know her empathy for all and her determination to advocate for social justice in health professions. Her speech will challenge us to continue to broaden our thinking on how increasing diversity increases all of our opportunities.

Please join me in congratulating and expressing appreciation to Simone, Natalie, Bailey, Ashley, and Dr. Gordon!


Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. | President.