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Athletes & Entertainers Celebrating Graduation Season

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
From Usher to Adam Silver, many stars of sports and entertainment are donning academic robes this graduation season. Boardroom breaks down some of the most famous graduates, speakers, and honorary degree recipients.

Cue “Pomp and Circumstance,” for it is graduation season. However, in addition to your cousin who you never thought would make it through, several colleges and universities will welcome high-profile guests to the annual celebration.

Last year, Stephen Curry famously finished his degree at Davidson College after 11 years, earning a degree in Sociology upon completing a thesis advocating for increased equality in gender and sport. This year, everyone from Super Bowl quarterback Jalen Hurts to Hamilton creator and star Lin Manuel Miranda is heading back to school and curating their best Harry Potter-inspired looks to celebrate the newest crop of graduates.

While their roles may be a little different — from graduates to featured commencement speakers — the importance of the day remains resolute.

Boardroom breaks down the most famous graduates, speakers, and honorary degree recipients.

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Dealing in Diplomas

The following individuals added to their laundry list of accolades, earning their degrees this year.

  • Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma, Masters, Human Relations
  • Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields, Ohio State, Bachelor, Consumer and Family Financial Services
  • NBA Champion & Basketball Hall of Famer Ray Allen, University of Connecticut, Bachelor, General Studies (walked this year after graduating in 2021)
  • WNBA alumna Imani McGee-Stafford, JD, Southwestern Law School

You Can Call Them Doctor

While each school designates the criteria for an honorary degree, several celebs will gain extra letters after theirs name this graduation season. They include:

  • Actor & Entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross, Spelman College, Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts
  • Rapper E-40, Grambling State University, Honorary Doctor of Music
  • Stevie Wonder, Fordham University, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
  • American Ballet Theater Principal Dancer Misty Copeland, New York University, Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts
  • Actor & Director Jon Favreau, Queens College, Honorary Degree
  • President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, University of Southern California, Honorary Degree
  • Usher, Berklee College of Music, Honorary Doctor of Music

Featured Graduation Speakers

  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (Class of ’84) spoke to the newest crop of his fellow alumni at the Duke University commencement. He encouraged graduates to “face the future with confidence and hope” as they tackle their next chapter.
  • Tennis legend John McEnroe may not have finished his degree at Stanford after leading the tennis program to a national championship in 1978, but he will otherwise be honored as the 2023 commencement speaker. Upon confirming the news, he told his fellow Cardinal, “I am gratified that my lack of an undergraduate degree from Stanford has not been held against me or disqualified me from this prestigious honor, and I look forward to sharing some of my life experiences with the graduating students and their families.”
  • Lin Manuel Miranda is an Oscar from an EGOT and will offer his advice for the future to the graduates of Hunter College. The Hamilton creator and star will also receive an honorary degree.
  • Tom Hanks will address the graduation classes from across Harvard University. He will also receive an honorary degree.
  • Chief design officer at Nike, Inc. John R. Hoke III will address the graduating class of Penn State College of Arts and Architecture.
  • New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum will speak at his alma mater, Lehigh, on Sunday afternoon. Before he became the 10th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, McCollum led the Mountain Hawks to one of the greatest upsets in March Madness history — a win over 2 seed Duke in 2012.

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About The Author
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos is the Senior Director of Editorial Strategy at Boardroom. Before joining the team, her work appeared in ELLE. She previously served as the head of evaluation for a nonprofit where she became obsessed with systems and strategy and served as the curator of vibes and extinguisher of fires for the design thinking firm Stoked. She is constantly plotting a perfect tunnel ‘fit and a playlist for all occasions.