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Commencement Speakers Announced

Juju Chang, Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline, will be the keynote speaker at the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 19, 2023, at the Total Mortgage Arena (formerly Webster Bank Arena), Bridgeport, Conn. The ceremony begins with an academic procession at 10:15 a.m.

Jacqueline Brown will be the speaker at the 2 p.m. Graduate Commencement for the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Health & Human Services on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Alexander Clark, founder and CEO of Technolutions, will speak at the 7 p.m. ceremony that day for the School of Business and College of Education, including Library Science. Both graduate commencements will be held at the Lyman Center for the Performing Arts.

Juju Chang

One of the most prominent Asian Americans in broadcast news, Juju Chang is the Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News Nightline and a regular contributor to Good Morning America and 20/20.

With the rise of hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, Chang leveraged her platform to become a much-admired champion of social change. She made U.S. broadcast history co-anchoring the 2021 ABC News Live special, Stop the Hate: The Rise in Violence Against Asian Americans alongside fellow Korean-American co-anchor Eva Pilgrim and a cast of AAPI journalists, thought leaders, lawmakers and celebrities.

Chang’s highly visible reporting on Asian hate is the culmination of decades of covering everything from natural disasters to terrorism, mass shootings, immigration, violence against the LGBTQIA+ community, and, most recently, the inequities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Known for her in-depth personal narratives and long-form storytelling, Chang has won acclaim for stories with underlying themes of civil and women’s rights and social justice. These include her critical examination of the controversial “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy, which she told through the eyes of one pregnant woman and her family living among the 60,000 asylum seekers camped for months along the Rio Grande. Her award-winning report, “Trans and Targeted,” on violence against transgender women of color was the latest of a series of stories on the targeting of LGBTQIA+ Americans, including a GLAAD award-winning report on Matthew Shepard’s murder.

Internationally, Chang has been a powerful voice on gender-based violence, and she made a trip through Central Africa on the front lines against Boko Haram and #bringbackourgirls. She also traveled to Honduras for “Femicide: The Untold War,” an eye-opening look at rampant violence against women.

Jacqueline Brown

Everyone’s journey at Southern is unique. For Jacqueline Brown, a current doctoral graduate student, her collegiate journey began in 2012, and is still continuing. After joining the U.S. Navy in 2007, Brown chose to separate herself from the military to pursue another lifelong passion: her education. “I knew before going into the military that I wanted to go to school,” she said.

Upon moving to Connecticut, Brown heard about the benefits and support Southern provides for veterans. “I went to campus to look around,” she said, “and I thought it was a great campus because there was a lot of diversity.”

While her initial focus was on general psychology, she later realized her interest in research while taking a psychology course taught by Dr. Julia Irwin. She was interested in Dr. Irwin’s work in speech perception and language development.

Brown currently holds three degrees from Southern: Bachelor of Science in Psychology (2014), Master of Arts in Psychology (2014), and Master of Science in Communication Disorders (2018). She us currently pursuing a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership at Southern.

One of the reasons why Brown decided to receive all her degrees from Southern was due to the campus diversity. “I love Southern,” she said. “I always felt a strong sense of community from the people I got to know there. I was always able to find people who look like me and people who understood me.”

As the daughter of immigrants from El Salvador, Brown only spoke Spanish as a child and did not speak English fluently until she was in the second grade. Brown spent her primary school years moving back and forth between the U.S. and El Salvador. With all the travel, her primary schooling was nontraditional. According to Brown, the professors at Southern were supportive and helped fill in the gaps in her education. “Even the professor who didn’t share my cultural background were still sensitive and understanding,” she said.

Jacqueline started her career in speech at Milford Public Schools and worked with school age children. Recently, she worked for Yale New Haven Health (YNHH) where she covered neurological outpatient clinic, pediatric outpatient clinic, acute care, and acute rehabilitation. While working with a diverse set of patients, Jacqueline is most passionate about motor speech disorders and treatment of swallowing disorders. Within the general aspects of her clinical skills, Jacqueline is dedicated to educating her patients and their families. She has led work to improve the model of stroke education within YNHH with a research team in acute rehab. Her goal is to continue this work and to provide culturally sensitive resources to patients and their families. This effort, she hopes, will close the inequality gap in healthcare.

Along with her doctoral program at Southern, Brown is currently the director of the Speech-Language Pathology Program at the University of New Haven—a new program at the university. Regarding her future, Brown plans to continue in academia.

Alexander Clark

As a distinguished Yale University alumnus who has an extraordinary commitment to education, Alexander Clark, who will also receive the President’s Medal of Distinction, has truly dedicated his life to the higher education field. Clark began his career at an incredibly young age, founding Technolutions in 1994 while a seventh grader in Mississippi. Just six years later, as a freshman English major at Yale, he not only created, but also introduced Slate – a platform utilized and trusted by more than 1,500 colleges and universities worldwide to support enrollment, student success, alumni, and advancement operations.

Since then, Clark has continued to devote himself to Technolutions and its Slate community, leading as chief executive officer through their evolution and growth over two decades. In 2018, he also served as the founder of Slate School, a nonprofit K-12 independent school located on a 40-acre campus in North Haven, Conn.

With Southern Connecticut State University’s admissions office and graduate school recently implementing Slate into their day-to-day operations, the system has been a driving force behind the growing relationships between admissions counselors, students, and outside organizations.

Clark possesses an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, is focused on cultivating creativity, fosters ingenuity and curiosity, and inspires a deep passion for lifelong learning.

Given his tremendous contributions to the New Haven community and beyond, it is no wonder that Clark was described as a higher education “Wizard of Oz” in a feature article by Eric Hoover in the Chronicle of Higher Education.


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