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Simon's Rock Welcome Alum as Commencement Speaker

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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Simon's Rock alum Michael Lawrence will address graduates at the 55th Commencement ceremony of Bard College at Simon's Rock on Saturday, May 18,  at 11 a.m. The ceremony will be held in person and live-streamed for those unable to attend.
 
A self-proclaimed "word nerd" working at the intersection of language, design, and technology, Lawrence received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Simon's Rock in 2002, building a concentration that combined cultural studies, critical theory, linguistics, art history, and graphic design — ideal preparation for his current job in the relatively new fields of content design and UX writing, which did not exist at the time. 
 
He has worked with product and brand design teams at Meta, Indeed, and eBay, and offered freelance naming and content strategy for a number of creative entrepreneurs. His work allows him to craft the language that appears in apps and web interfaces to make digital products more useful, usable, and inclusive. Success requires careful attention to the metaphors and narratives people use to make sense of new technology, as well as close partnership with software engineers, user researchers, visual designers, translators, marketers, and policy experts.
 
After beginning his career in academia, Lawrence transitioned into industry. He served on the support staff of the first Bard High School Early College before going on to earn a PhD in rhetorical theory and criticism from the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. His dissertation explored discourses of 9/11 memorialization and national identity by examining the neoliberal epideictic practice of publicly reciting and reprinting the long list of names of the dead. The project earned the top dissertation award from the National Communication Association's Critical Cultural Studies Division. 
 
He served on the faculty of Columbia College Chicago as a full-time lecturer in liberal arts and sciences, and acting program director for the college's First-Year Seminar program. He has also taught numerous courses on contemporary media and culture, as well as foundational courses in communication and critical thinking skills. 
 
He continues to work with college students, currently co-teaching an interdisciplinary seminar at the University of San Francisco on generative AI and the question of human creativity. 
 
Simon's Rock looks forward to honoring this year's graduating students. Read more details about commencement here

Tags: bard college,   commencement,   graduation 2024,   keynote,   

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Du Bois Center Kicks Off Reflections on Democracy Series

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff

Congresswoman Nikema Williams speaks about the attack on the Capitol and the need for a national voting standardized. 
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams of Georgia's 5th District kicked off W.E.B. Du Bois Center's "Reflections on Democracy" series on Juneteenth.
 
Approximately 200 people gathered at Saint James Place to discuss democracy with Williams, moderated by Michael Blake, the center's first-ever visiting scholar in democracy.
 
The event was the first of a four-part series. This first part focused on democracy and leadership. The next session July 11 will focus on democracy and philanthropy with Marvin Carr, director of Walmart's Center for Racial Equity.
 
Blake said Williams was the perfect person to have as the first speaker for the series because you cannot talk about democracy without talking about Georgia.
 
Georgia is one of five states where charges have been filed in the so-called fake electors scheme and the only one to implicate the former president, Donald Trump. The cases include fraud, conspiracy and forgery and allegations that individuals who were not selected as state electors attempted to replace certified electors and swing the election in the Electoral College.
 
Williams was one of Georgia's 16 electors to certify the election of Joseph Biden to Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.
 
The Democrat was driven to run for Congress to represent the battleground state after the death of her mentor and friend, John Robert Lewis in 2020, instead of returning to the state's Senate. She was sworn in for her first term three days before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
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