angela basset and daniela struppa in academic regalia holding hands over their hearts

Angela Bassett, Sherry Lansing, and Fatima Yousufi Inspire Chapman University Graduates at 2023 Commencement




Chapman University’s 2023 Commencement was marked by an extraordinary fusion of wisdom and inspiration as three remarkable speakers — Angela Bassett, Sherry Lansing, and Fatima Yousufi — graced the stage. The ceremonies, held at Wilson Field May 19-21, celebrated 2,345 graduates in Chapman University’s Class of 2023, and their remarkable achievements. 

Angela Bassett, the esteemed actress, director and producer, humbly expressed her gratitude for being bestowed with the honorary degree of Doctor of the Arts and gave the keynote speech May 19. She acknowledged the significance of this milestone for both the graduates and her own children, who will soon embark on their own college journeys.

Drawing inspiration from the phrase “doing too much,” Bassett questioned its meaning and challenged the notion of overachieving. She shared her personal journey, from growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida, to discovering her passion for acting during a school trip to the Kennedy Center. Bassett’s story illustrated the resilience and determination required to pursue one’s purpose, even in the face of societal expectations and obstacles.

Addressing the graduates directly, Bassett encouraged them to put their acquired knowledge and experiences into practice. She reminded them that Chapman University had equipped them to be original thinkers and problem solvers in a challenging world. Bassett urged the graduates to embrace their individual paths, carrying the pride and sense of family they developed on campus as they ventured into the world. Bassett challenged the graduates to consider the impact they wish to have on humanity and emphasized the need for their leadership and innovation to inspire future generations of Panthers. 

In the evening May 20, Sherry Lansing, renowned film executive and philanthropist, took the stage to share her insights with 421 graduates of Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Lansing recounted her groundbreaking journey as the first female studio head in Hollywood and the challenges of resilience, perseverance, and tenacity in pursuing one’s dreams, and highlighted the importance of embracing failure as a stepping stone toward success. 

Lansing emphasized the transformative power of education, urging graduates to never stop learning and to embrace curiosity as a driving force in their lives. She reminded the graduates that their Chapman University experience has prepared them to navigate the complexities of the world and to be catalysts for change.

Fatima Yousufi, spoke on May 19 to graduating law students from the Fowler School of Law. Yousufi, an activist and esteemed starting goalkeeper for the Afghan Women’s National Soccer Team, took the stage to share her personal journey and impart her words of wisdom. She spoke passionately about the importance of using education as a vehicle for empowerment and societal transformation. Drawing from her experiences as a refugee and immigrant, she emphasized the significance of empathy, inclusivity, and embracing diverse perspectives. 

Yousufi challenged the graduates to be agents of change in a world plagued by inequality and injustice. She urged them to utilize their education and privilege to uplift marginalized communities and to dismantle the barriers that hinder that process. 

About Chapman University

Founded in 1861, Chapman University is a nationally ranked private university located in Southern California. Chapman is categorized by the Carnegie Classification as an R2 “high research activity” institution and offers personalized education to more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The campus has produced a Rhodes Scholar, been named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars, and hosts a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. Based in the City of Orange, Chapman also includes the Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine. In 2019, the university opened its 11th college, Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler School of Engineering, in its newest facility, Keck Center for Science and Engineering. Learn more about Chapman University:


Carly Murphy

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