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History of the Award

Wendell Phillips was a nineteenth-century attorney, orator, abolitionist, and advocate for women's and Native People's rights. The Wendell Phillips Address is intended to deliver a message to inspire the graduating class and all who are gathered to reflect on how a Tufts education, and specifically the experiences of the graduating senior class, might help make the world a better place through constructive civic engagement.

The Wendell Phillips Award was established in 1896. The award is given annually to a senior who demonstrates both marked ability as a speaker and a high sense of public responsibility. Selected by the Committee on Student Life, the winner is the one graduating senior invited to offer a speech as part of Commencement, and the speech takes place during the Baccalaureate Ceremony. The speech is intended to deliver a message about civic engagement in our time.

Congratulations to our four esteemed finalists!

We thank Kathryn Lazur, E22, Chidiebele Ikpeazu, A22,  Zahra Rizvi, A22 and René LaPointe Jameson, E22 (pictured left to right below) for their effort, wisdom, and galvanizing words, and congratulate them again on their nomination. We will welcome René LaPointe Jameson, E22 to the Baccalaureate Ceremony this year to be our Wendell Phillips Speaker!


Wendell Phillips Finalists at their audition on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 at Goddard Chapel 

Our 2022 Wendell Phillips Speaker

René smiles at the camera

René LaPointe Jameson, E22

René LaPointe Jameson, E22 is a senior Balfour Scholar and Tisch Scholar at Tufts University. Passionate about environmental justice and health equity, René studies environmental engineering with a self-designed focus on race and justice. She uses engineering to address environmental racism and advance health in communities of color. René has been community organizing since she was 14; she mobilized dozens of her peers to build community gardens, host food drives, create care packages for homeless shelters, and more. Today, with the nonprofit Building Audacity, René coordinates a food distribution program that serves over 650 families in Greater Boston. She also co-directs the design and development of a community hydroponics center which is fully funded by a co-earned $20,000+ Tufts University Green Fund Grant. René was an ambassador of The Jane Goodall Institute for six years, is a CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholar, and received the Tufts University Presidential Award for Civic Life in 2021. 

2021-2022 Nomination Process

Faculty, staff, and students may nominate seniors to apply to be the Wendell Phillips Speaker, and seniors many self-nominate. All nominated students will be invited to submit an application, including a letter of application, a resume of leadership and service activities, and a recorded speech. Nominations are now closed.

Applications are reviewed by the Committee on Student Life (CSL), and the CSL will invite finalists to present brief speeches at an open forum during the spring semester in Goddard Chapel on the Medford campus. The CSL will then select the winner. This award also carries a cash prize.

The University Chaplaincy assists the CSL in the administration of the award. For more information, please contact the University Chaplain, Reverend Elyse Nelson Winger at or 617-627-3427.

Timeline for the 2021-2022 nomination and selection process
Monday, November 29, 2021 Nomination form opens
Monday, December 13, 2021 Nomination form closes at 5 p.m. ET
Thursday, December 16, 2021 University Chaplaincy notifies all nominees
Monday, January 31, 2022 Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. ET
Wednesday, February 23, 2022 University Chaplaincy notifies all finalists and non-finalists
Wednesday, March 16, 2022 Finalist auditions. All friends and family of the finalists, and anyone in the Tufts community is welcome, following covid-19 health and safety guidelines
Friday, March 18, 2022 Committee on Student Life votes, and the Wendell Phillips Speaker is chosen and notified by 5 p.m. ET
Saturday, May 21, 2022 The selected finalist will speak at the 2022 Baccalaureate Ceremony


Previous Wendell Phillips Award recipients:

2021 - Atrey Bhargava

2020 - Leticia Priebe Rocha

2019 - Ria Mazumdar

2018 -  Anna Del Castillo

2017 - Isabella Kahhale

2016 - Sharad Sagar

2015 - Michael Maskin

2014 - Jessica Wilson

2013 - Kristen Ford

2012 - Allister Chang

2011 - Brian Agler

2010 - David Mok

2009 - Anjali Nirmalan

2008 - Alexandra Pryor

2007 - Casey Beck

2006 - Mauricia Artinano A06

2005 - Eitan Hersh A05

2004 - Candace J. Gomez A04

2003 - Elaine P. Wang A03

2002 - Michael W. Ferenczy E02

2001 - Thea Lavin A01

2000 - Keshia Pollack J00

1999 - Alexander R. Shalom A99

1998 - Andrea D. Friedman A98

1997 - Eric A. Pliner A97

1996 - Ancy Verdier A96

1995 - Sarah L. McGinley A95

1994 - Adam Tratt A94

1993 - Randy Ravitz A93

1992 - Sharon Wachsler J92

1991 - Jonathan C. Cutler A91

1990 - Myra M. Frazier J90

1989 - Daniel A. Feldman A89

1988 - Michael D. Epstein A88