Evergreen announces Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos as 2018 Commencement guest speaker

Rep. Santos with Evergreen President George Bridges at the Return to Evergreen 2017

Washington State Representative and Evergreen alumna Sharon Tomiko Santos will deliver the keynote address at the college’s 2018 commencement ceremony on Friday, June 15. A member of Evergreen’s Class of 1985, Rep. Santos has dedicated her career to the advancement of public education, civil rights, women’s rights, economic justice, environmental justice and affordable housing.

“Rep. Santos is a distinguished leader and civil servant with a long history of working to improve every level of our state’s education system,” said Evergreen President George Bridges. “She’s a sensational role model to many of our graduating seniors who aspire to spend their lives creating positive change.”

Santos was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives in 1998 and has served for 10 terms. She represents Washington’s 37th legislative district, which includes Renton and South Seattle. She chairs the House Education Committee and sits on both the Business and Financial Services Committee and the Technology and Economic Development Committee.

Santos was selected as graduation speaker by a committee of Evergreen staff and graduating seniors. She has remained close with her alma mater throughout her career and credits Evergreen for providing her with the tools necessary to thrive in public service. In November 2017, she received the Joseph Albert Dear Distinguished Alumni Award.

“Evergreen really prepares people for life beyond these campus borders,” Santos remarked while receiving the alumni award at the 2017 Return to Evergreen brunch. “Evergreen equips people to be critical thinkers, to be effective communicators, to be reflective and to synthesize diverse perspectives, to be able to apply knowledge and transfer knowledge to a variety of settings,” she continued. “And, most of all, to be agents of your own self-determination.”

Also speaking at commencement will be faculty member Terry Setter, undergraduate student Auriell Marie, and graduate student Riel LaPlant of the Amskapii-Pikunii Nation. Setter has been a member of the Evergreen faculty for 35 years, teaches music and audio production, and co-founded the college’s consciousness studies planning unit. Marie is decorated poet, essayist, and activist whose work has been featured by ESSENCE Magazine, Huffington Post, and many other national publications. LaPlant is a Master in Teaching student who plans to start his own system of schools centered on supporting academically off-track indigenous students.

Commencement will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 15, 2018 on Evergreen’s Red Square. More information is available at evergreen.edu/graduation.

Photo: Rep. Santos with Evergreen President George Bridges at the Return to Evergreen brunch on November 4, 2017. (Evergreen/Shauna Bittle)