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Philanthropist, investor, artist Kwanza Jones named 2019 Commencement speaker

Kwanza Jones, a Los Angeles-based recording artist, producer, impact investor and philanthropist, will be the speaker at Winston-Salem State University's 2019 Commencement Ceremony on May 10.

“We are honored to have Kwanza Jones as our commencement speaker,” said Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson. “In addition to her talents as a music artist, Ms. Jones is an ardent advocate for empowerment, service to the community, and creating impactful change. She lives by the motto, ‘Own your power, live your purpose, be of service.’ Her thought-provoking and uplifting message will shed light on how our graduates can do just that as they prepare to leave WSSU and begin the next chapters of their lives.”

Jones is an investor, entrepreneur and entertainer who wrote her first album while a student at Princeton University. During that time, she was invited to perform at New York City’s legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. Upon graduating, she continued to write, produce and perform with numerous hit songs reaching the top 10 on the Billboard music charts.

Jones is the founder and CEO of SUPERCHARGED, a lifestyle and personal development platform that helps individuals continuously improve their fitness, confidence and community. SUPERCHARGED integrates the mind and body to create the ultimate empowerment experience.

Photo of Kwanza Jones, WSSU's 2019 commencement speaker
Kwanza Jones 

Jones is also the co-founder and CEO of The Kwanza Jones & José E. Feliciano SUPERCHARGED Initiative, a philanthropic grant-making and investment organization that focuses on four key priorities: education, entrepreneurship, equal opportunity and empowerment.

In February, Jones announced a historic $1 million gift to Greensboro’s Bennett College as a salute to her mother and aunt, who are alumnae. Jones and SUPERCHARGED have also supported organizations including, The Trevor Project, the United Way, Foundation for Puerto Rico, and the Boys and Girls Clubs.

Jones serves on the board of directors of several companies. Prior to founding the SUPERCHARGED initiative, she taught cross-cultural negotiations at New York University and was a mediator for the New York City Civil Court. Jones, a native of Washington, D.C., earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University, a Juris Doctor from Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, and a Master of Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine University School of Law.

The ceremony will recognize more than 1,100 graduates who received their degrees during the summer and fall of 2018 and spring 2019. This includes:

  • Nearly 950 undergraduates.
  • 150 graduates (master’s and doctoral).

Commencement begins at 8:45 a.m. and will be held at Winston-Salem’s Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. For those who cannot attend, the ceremony will be live-streamed on WSSU’s website.

 About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.  

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