In an email earlier today, Barnard announced the 2022 Commencement speaker and four other medalists, including Olympian Allyson Felix.

Barnard President Beilock and Dean Grinage announced via email today that the 2022 Commencement speaker will be writer and researcher Margot Lee Shetterly. Shetterly is known for being the author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. The book was later adapted into the Oscar-nominated film of the same name. Shetterly also founded the Human Computer Project, which is an archive of NASA’s “human computers,” the women that did mathematical calculations to aid NASA and the United States during the Space Race. President Beilock and Dean Grinage also nodded to Barnard’s Year of Science and noted that it will be a “special honor” for Shetterly to speak at the ceremony.

In addition to being the Commencement speaker, Shetterly will receive a Barnard Medal of Distinction, along with four other women. The other medalists will include Olympian Allyson Felix, senior director of the Genomics Platform at Broad Institute Stacey Gabriel, PhD, playwright Sarah Ruhul, and sociopolitical artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. 

President Beilock and Dean Grinage concluded the email by expressing their thanks to the Medalist Committee and those who offered input about the selection of the Commencement speaker. 

The Barnard Class of 2022 Commencement will be held on Wednesday, May 18 at 4 pm at Radio City Music Hall. 

The email can be found in its entirety below. 

Email sent to Barnard Seniors on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at 12:02 pm:

Dear Barnard Seniors,

We are excited to celebrate the academic success and accomplishments of Barnard’s graduating Class of 2022 together, in person with family, friends, and guests, in just over two months. You have met this moment with exceptional resilience, perseverance, and care for those around you. Throughout a challenging few years, you have remained committed to your studies and steadfast in the pursuit of your goals. We couldn’t be prouder.

It is our pleasure to announce that Margot Lee Shetterly, writer, researcher, and entrepreneur, will deliver the keynote address at Barnard’s 130th Commencement on May 18 at Radio City Music Hall. She will also receive a Barnard Medal of Distinction.

Margot Lee Shetterly is the author of the highly acclaimed book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. It was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated motion picture. She is also the founder of the Human Computer Project, a digital archive telling the stories of NASA’s “human computers,” women from all backgrounds whose work tipped the balance in favor of the United States in World War II, the Cold War, and the Space Race. The depth and rigor of Shetterly’s written work has played a critical role in uplifting and recognizing important parts of our history — such as the vital role black women played in advancing NASA’s space missions. Notably, the late Katherine Johnson, one of the mathematicians featured in Hidden Figures, was a 2018 recipient of the Barnard Medal. It will be a special honor to have Margot Lee Shetterly be a part of this very momentous occasion, especially as we culminate Barnard’s Year of Science, a celebration of the many contributions women make to STEM.

Joining Ms. Shetterly as a recipient of the Barnard Medal of Distinction will be four other women whose resilience, passion, intellect, and commitment to social justice and welfare are inspiring examples for our graduates. The medalists include Allyson Felix, the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history; Stacey Gabriel, Ph.D., senior director of the Genomics Platform at Broad Institute, the renowned scientific research institute that has facilitated Barnard’s COVID-19 testing and testing at colleges, universities, and K-12 schools across the country; Sarah Ruhl, award-winning American playwright, author, essayist, and professor; and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, sociopolitical artist and enrolled Salish member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation, Montana.

We are grateful to the Medalist Committee for its help in selecting our honorees, as well as to those who shared their input regarding the selection of our Commencement speaker. Full bios of the medalists can be found on the College’s website.

Barnard’s 130th Commencement will take place on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at 4 p.m., at Radio City Music Hall. The Columbia University Commencement ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 18, on Columbia’s campus. More details and updates about both ceremonies will be posted on the website over the next several weeks.

We wish everyone a rewarding and productive conclusion to the Spring semester and look forward to celebrating on May 18.


Sian Leah Beilock


Leslie Grinage

Dean of the College

Margot Lee Shetterly via Flickr