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Feb 25 2013

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Announcements, Students

Speaking at the Baccalaureate ceremony during Stanford's 122 Commencement Weekend will be IR alumna Valarie Kaur, an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights advocate and interfaith organizer. She is the founding director of Groundswell, a nonprofit initiative at Auburn Seminary that mobilizes people of faith in social action. Currently a fellow at Yale Law School, Kaur is the founding director of the Yale Visual Law Project, where she makes documentary films and trains students in the art of visual advocacy.

For the last decade, Kaur has combined storytelling and advocacy to lead campaigns for racial dignity, religious pluralism, immigrant rights, prison reform, and LGBTQ and gender equality. Her award-winning film Divided We Fall (2008), with Sharat Raju, earned national attention as the first feature documentary on post-9/11 racism and continues to inspire national grassroots dialogue. As a civil rights advocate, Kaur has clerked on the Senate Judiciary Committee, traveled to Guantanamo to report on the military commissions, filed a landmark immigrant rights lawsuit with her clinic team in law school, and led a high-profile campaign against racial profiling with a coalition in East Haven, Conn.

Kaur first spoke at Stanford's Baccalaureate as a student speaker in 2003, after being elected by her class. That year she earned bachelor's degrees in religion and international relations. She went on to earn a master's degree in theological studies at Harvard Divinity School as a Harvard Presidential Scholar, and a law degree at Yale Law School as a Knight Law and Media Scholar.

"Valarie's unique as a Baccalaureate speaker, having been the student speaker when she graduated from Stanford a decade ago," said Scotty McLennan, Stanford's dean for religious life. "Ever since she's been a tireless and very effective national advocate for positive interfaith relations and for civil rights, especially in relation to post-9/11 bigotry and violence. We're very proud to have her as this year's speaker."

The class presidents added: "We are excited to hear from Valarie Kaur, because as a Stanford alumnus, she shares and embodies many of the values associated with Stanford students. These values include the power of individuals to make a difference in the face of adversity and the importance of real social change. We believe her diverse background, creative vision and exceptional story will inspire students to pursue their deepest passions in innovative contexts."

Stanford's 122nd Commencement, Class Day lecture and Baccalaureate ceremony are part of a celebration for graduates, their families and friends, and members of the Stanford community. The Baccalaureate ceremony will be held on the Main Quad and the Class Day lecture will be held in Maples Pavilion, both on Saturday, June 15. Commencement will be held in the Stanford Stadium on Sunday, June 16.

This is an extract of an article in the Stanford Report