This year’s School of Arts and Sciences Commencement guest speaker will be Penn alumnus and Nobel Prize winner George Smith.
The student speaker will be College senior Joshua Bennett, a Marshall Scholarship recipient.
In 1969, Smith and William Boyle invented the charge-coupled device, or CCD, an image-capturing technology that formed the foundation for the creation of digital cameras. Smith won the Nobel Prize in physics for his work in 2009.
“It may be true that George Smith is not be a household name, but it’s not every year that we can count a new Nobel Prize winner among our alums,” Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dennis DeTurck said. “He’s truly an inspiring example of what a College graduate can achieve in the realm of science and technology.”
College senior Jake Bennet, a physics major, said he was pleased about Smith’s background. “I think that SAS tends to focus more on the arts than the sciences. This is a step in the right direction.”
While many were unfamiliar with Smith, seniors said they look forward to his speech.
College senior Lindsay Eierman, who had not heard of Smith until she Googled him, said, “After reading his biography in the Penn Current, he sounds like a brilliant guy.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing if he talks about the world cruise he took on his own boat. Anyone who’s done that must be cool,” she added.
College senior Emily De Santo said she initially didn’t know much about Smith.
“But after hearing about his accomplishments, I’m looking forward to hearing what information he can instill in future Penn graduates,” she said.
College senior Maggie Borden said she is looking forward to hearing Bennett speak. “I was more excited about the student speaker than … the speaker who won the Nobel Prize.”
Bennett is an HBO Brave New Voices poetry-slam champion and member of the Penn Excelano spoken-word team.
“I feel so blessed to be able to speak about my odd, beautiful college experience,” Bennett said. “I don’t know what a run of the mill graduation speech looks like, but I’m going for something personal and creative and innovative. I believe the personal can be universal.”
“Josh has already won a remarkable set of accolades,” DeTurck added. “Having heard a run-through of his speech at the auditions, I’m looking forward to his delivering it at the graduation ceremony.”
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