Inspirational Women: Who’s going to be Barnard’s commencement speaker for 2013?!

“You lose your fear of failure when you improvise a lot, because you mostly fail when you improvise. It’s freeing to fail and realize you didn’t die.”

by Samantha Plotner

Even if she just read from Harry Potter at
commencement, the majority of the Barnard
population would be satisfied.

Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, Sheryl Sandberg, Barack Obama. That’s a hard list to follow. So, who should address the class of 2013 at Radio City Music Hall this May? We likely won’t know for a few more weeks, but here’s my personal dream short list. Who would you like to see?

Rachel Maddow
I happen to love Maddow’s show, and her style of making arguments (it helps I mostly agree with her). As one of the stars of MSNBC, she’s broken ground not just for women, but for lesbian and gay journalists as well. The biggest reason I want her to speak is the commencement speech she gave two years ago at Smith and it was fantastic.

Kathryn Bigelow
When Bigelow won the Best Director Oscar she made history as the first woman to win the award. It is still a hard world for female directors, even more so when you are directing traditionally “male” movies like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Her experiences could prove great speech material.

Tina Fey
Do I really need to explain this one? Fey is hysterical, and has helped pave the way for women in comedy and television. I think her speech would leaving us laughing, while still imparting the wisdom to send us on our way.

Christine Lagarde
Lagarde is the first female managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Before that, she was the Minister of Finance in France. She advocated to get more women on corporate boards in France. Not to mention she gives an amazing speech.

Who says women can’t have it all?

Melinda Gates
With her husband she runs The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is changing philanthropy and ideas of what family foundations can achieve. On issues from malaria to contraception she’s making a difference. With our generation more invested in service than ever before it’s appropriate.

Marissa Mayer
Mayer being hired as CEO of Yahoo was a big deal. It was an even bigger deal when she then announced she was pregnant, which sparked a renewed discussion about mothers with young children in the workplace. Before that she was a force at Google, holding several important positions. Hearing her thoughts on how to be a woman in the workforce would be an appropriate send off.

Beyoncé Knowles
She’s Beyoncé, diva of the divas. She also manages to have a superstar career, be buddies with the President and be the rare celebrity who keeps her private life private.

Diane Von Furstenber
She designed one of the most iconic items of clothing in American design (the wrap dress) and is still at the top of the industry. This summer she started her fourth term as President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Not to mention she and her husband were major backers of the High Line.

J.K. Rowling
She wrote the novels that defined our childhood and that one day our kids will read. Even cooler than becoming a billionaire from writing novels? She’s given so much money to charity she’s no longer a billionaire.

Samantha is a senior at Barnard and Senior Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Harry Potter Wiki and Hollywood Life.

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