We’re entering graduation season, and that means a parade of the country’s most admired people will give commencement speeches and receive honorary degrees—among them, actress Angela Bassett and billionaire Robert Smith are slated to earn honorary degrees from Morehouse College.
Bassett might be best known for her 1993 Oscar-nominated role as icon Tina Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It, but the New York City-born actress is no academic lightweight. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Yale University, where she met husband and fellow thespian Courtney Vance, according to the IMDB website.
Bassett’s career includes roles portraying strong women, including Rosa Parks, the mother of the Civil Rights Movement, and Dr. Betty Shabazz, the late widow of Malcolm X. She was motivated to become an actress while in high school after seeing James Earl Jones perform in Of Mice and Men at the Kennedy Center during a class trip to Washington, D.C.
Smith, the founder and CEO of Vista Equity, donated $1.5 million to Atlanta-based Morehouse in January, Black Enterprise reports. Most of the donation will be used to fund a program for underserved students who cannot afford to attend Morehouse. About $500,000 of the donation will pay for a new park and outdoor study area.
“As Morehouse College celebrates its 152nd year of serving students, we are honored to welcome our community partner Robert F. Smith, one of the greatest business minds of our time, back to campus to share in the ceremony that is the highlight of the year,” Morehouse President David Thomas said in a statement shared by Black Enterprise.
“His words of inspiration, and the presence of our other honorary degree recipients will give the Class of 2019 a memorable experience that will challenge them to take the lessons that they learned as Men of Morehouse and become game-changers in their future endeavors,” Thomas said in the statement.
Bassett and Smith are among 300 scholars who will receive honorary degrees at Morehouse this year.