Kwesi Jones ’21 to deliver undergraduate Commencement speech

Kwesi JonesPhoto/Mike Lovett

Kwesi Jones '21

Four years ago, a Brandeis-bound Kwesi Jones ’21 gave his high school’s salutatorian speech and thought even then it would be cool if he could one day serve as Commencement speaker at his university, too.

Now Jones, a double-major in African and African American Studies and Film, Television and Interactive Media, will get a chance to do just that as the undergraduate speaker at Brandeis’ 70th Commencement Exercises on May 23. 

“It’s a great honor to do this, though I forgot a little bit that I wanted to give the speech this past year with all that went on during COVID-19,” the Atlanta native said. “When I saw the opportunity to apply, it reinvigorated me to write a speech from my heart that reflects on the last four years.” 

Jones said his speech talks a lot about change and personal transformation. A self-described artist of all media who hopes to someday work as a movie director and writer, Jones used a metaphor of a garden to describe his upcoming remarks to the Class of 2021. 

“The metaphor of the garden,” Jones explained, “is that we’ve received seeds of intellectual growth and creativity over the last four years that we can plant to grow a new world that can blossom with fullness of imagination.” 

“There’s a big transformation over four years at Brandeis,” he added. “I myself have gone through so many personal and intellectual changes, not only through my studies but also with my conception of the world. Especially this past year, with so much upheaval because of coronavirus, anti-Black violence, state violence, and other tragedies that were on full display, the world has to change and my speech reflects on the need for that transformation.

Jones said Brandeis has inspired a desire in both him and his classmates to work toward positive change and be a force for good. 

As for Jones, his next stop is New York University’s graduate film program, where he will study film and television production. 

“I’m a student first, and I love to learn, but in the past, I’ve let learning be an excuse for not creating,” he said. “Now I have to create. Learning, being creative, and accessing new knowledge will hopefully lead to me working as a writer and director someday.”

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