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Senior Day Speaker


The following information reflects Commencement 2016 details.

Philanthropist. Documentarian. Entrepreneur.
Soledad O'Brien

In 2006, Vanderbilt Law School graduate Ed Nichols and his wife, Janice, in honor of Edward Carmack and Lucile Hamby Nichols, created and endowed The Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal. The medal includes a cash award and is one of the university’s highest honors. It is given to individuals who define the 21st century and exemplify the best qualities of the human spirit.

Our 2016 Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal recipient and Senior Day speaker will be Soledad O'Brien

SENIOR DAY – Thursday, May 12, 2016
LOCATION – Memorial Gym
TIME – 11 a.m. – Noon
SENIOR DAY TOPIC – "Giving Til it Helps: How Covering War, Tragedies, and
                                                Natural Disasters Taught Me the Value of Giving"


Soledad O'BrienLeading media journalist, Soledad O'Brien has established herself as one of the most recognized names in broadcasting, bringing wider exposure to some of the most important issues and stories in the world through her coverage of breaking news, critically-acclaimed documentaries and empowering initiatives. Her critically acclaimed documentary series, Black in America and Latino in America are among CNN's most successful domestic and international franchises.

In 2013, she launched Starfish Media Group, a multiplatform media production and distribution company, dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories that take a challenging look at the often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity. Her projects include her documentary series, Latino in America 2, which won the distinguished Cine Award for documentaries and she is currently touring to promote Black in America. O'Brien is also a correspondent for HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

O'Brien has earned numerous Emmy awards for her reporting on the earthquake in Haiti, her coverage of the 2012 Presidential Election, and her work on "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture." Her coverage of Hurricane Katrina earned her and CNN a Peabody award and she earned another for her coverage of the BP Gulf coast oil spill.

O'Brien has also been selected to apply her wealth of expertise as a member of the RAND Corporation's 2015 Board of Trustees.

An authentic, engaging speaker, she offers a behind-the-scenes look at her work and inspiring, empowering narratives about the importance of making a difference and her commitment to exploring and uncovering the most important issues and stories in the world. 

Watch live streaming video of Senior Day beginning at 10 a.m. Central Time at

About Memorial Gym

  • The main gym where Senior Day will be held is NOT air conditioned. Wear comfortable clothes in the event of unusually warm weather.
  • Holding seats is not permitted inside Memorial Gym as seating is limited.
  • Senior Day will be streamed live on the Vanderbilt homepage and will also be available to watch after the event.
  • Attendees with special needs:
    • Those with special needs and requiring the use of a wheelchair will have priority seating on the East side of the gym. Guests with wheelchairs must enter gym at the pickup location (below). The East side entrance is not handicapped-accessible and there is no access to the gym floor.
    • Wheelchair pickup will be located on the corner of Jess Neely Drive and 25th Ave. South (same corner as the baseball field and across from 25th Ave. Garage).
    • More information available here.

View Past Senior Day Speakers »

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Future Commencement Dates

 2017  -  May 10, 11, 12
 2018  -  May 9, 10, 11
 2019  -  May 8, 9, 10
 2020 -  May 6, 7, 8

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