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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be addressing the 264th Penn graduating class on May 18th. (Photo by Howard County Library System | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will give the commencement speech at Penn’s graduation ceremony on May 18.

Nigerian-born Adichie is known for her critically-acclaimed works such as “Purple Hibiscus,” which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2005, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in 2004, and “Half of a Yellow Sun,” which won the Women's Prize for Fiction (previously the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction) in 2007. Her novel “Americanah” won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2013, and The New York Times also named the book one of its Top Ten Best Books of 2013.

Adichie is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work features themes such as politics, immigration, religion, and love, and has been translated into more than 30 languages, according to Penn Today.

“We are honored to bestow our highest degree on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and have her address our graduates at Penn’s 264th Commencement,” Penn President Amy Gutmann told Penn Today. “Her compelling narratives and absolutely fascinating commentary on complex cultural issues elevate the power of the individual voice.”

Adichie has also delivered notable TED talks such as her 2009 TED talk "The Danger of a Single Story,” which is one of the most viewed TED talks according to her website, and her 2012 TED talk "We Should All Be Feminists."

Published in 2017, “Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions” is her most recent work.

Adichie will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at the 2020 Commencement ceremony along with Anthony M. Kennedy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jill Lepore, Stanley A. Plotkin, Sister Mary Scullion, Gregg L. Semenza, and Henry Threadgill, who will also receive Penn honorary degrees. 

“It will be our pleasure to welcome renowned author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as our 2020 Commencement speaker and to celebrate the contributions of all of our extraordinary honorees,” Julie Beren Platt, Penn trustee and chair of the Trustee Honorary Degrees Committee, told Penn Today. “Their exceptional achievements encompass world-changing discovery, creativity, scholarship, the guardianship of justice, and compassionate service to others. We are privileged to honor them as we celebrate Commencement and our wonderful Class of 2020.”