Alumna, entrepreneur, philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs addresses Penn’s 265th Commencement

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PHILADELPHIA, May 18, 2021—The University of Pennsylvania marked the 265th Commencement with a limited in-person undergraduate Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2021 at Franklin Field on the morning of Monday, May 17. Alumna, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, who earned a B.A. in political science from the College of Arts and Sciences and a B.S. in economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, delivered the address.

Powell Jobs’ remarks detailed her background and how she was inspired to pursue her current work as founder and president of Emerson Collective, which is dedicated to the pursuit of a more equal and just world. Emerson Collective deploys a range of tools—from impact investing to philanthropy to advocacy—to lift up entrepreneurs, leaders, innovators, and creators and advance progress in critical areas, including education, immigration, climate, and cancer research and treatment.

She described for students how she’s learned there is “no higher or better use of your time on this planet than to be helpful to others.”

“It’s important to partner your joy with humility,” Powell Jobs said to the Class of 2021. “Even as we use our heads, we must learn to bow them. Humility and ambition need not contradict each other. We should all be ambitious to be good stewards of our planet, and good caretakers of one another during the brief time we have together.”

“Tend to your soul and to your community. Infuse your values into every part of what you do, and how you live,” she added. “Your values should be like your fingerprints: proof of where you have been and what you have touched.”

Powell Jobs also announced Emerson Collective would make a donation to the education nonprofit DonorsChoose in honor of all the Penn students graduating. Such a gift will support students in 3,000 classrooms.

Addressing the historic hybrid Commencement model Penn President Amy Gutmann said, “Every Commencement at Penn is historic, but none quite like this. To each graduate on the field, and to every graduate joining us online: You have done it. Here, at the turning of the tides, you make history.”

At the Commencement ceremony, Powell Jobs received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Other 2021 Penn honorary degree recipients were Elizabeth Alexander, Frances Arnold, David L. Cohen, Joy Harjo, David Miliband, John Williams, and Janet Yellen.

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Commencement 2021 – Laurene Powell Jobs Speech
Commencement 2021 – President Amy Gutmann Speech