White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to be Rice's 2023 commencement speaker

Dear Rice community,

I’m proud to announce that White House Press Secretary and Assistant to the President Karine Jean-Pierre will be the speaker at the 110th Commencement of Rice University.

Karine is an accomplished political adviser, having served in senior communication and political roles in the Biden administration and presidential campaign and to then-President Obama during his administration.

Prior to her role on the Biden campaign, she served as an NBC and MSNBC political analyst. Previously, she worked at the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics, pushing major companies to change their business practices.

Karine also is an accomplished author. In her memoir, “Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America,” Karine describes how seeing former congresswoman Barbara Jordan give a keynote speech at the 1992 Democratic National Convention altered the direction of her life and career: "She was the first Black woman in politics I had ever witnessed. In a world of pretty, pearl-wearing charmers, Jordan was substantive and authentic.”

Karine is the first Black person and the first openly LGBT person to be White House press secretary.

Born in Martinique to Haitian parents, Karine moved to New York when she was five years old. She graduated from the New York Institute of Technology in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree and earned a Master of Public Affairs degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, where she is now a faculty member.

Like many of you, Karine has broken barriers to get where she is today. This part of her story was especially attractive to me and to the members of the student committee who nominated her to be this year’s commencement speaker.

I am excited about hosting Karine in Houston and at Rice. Her message to our graduates will undoubtedly be inspiring, relevant and authentic.

For additional information about this year’s commencement, please click here.


President Reginald DesRoches

Campus Location

Allen Center, Suite 440
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005

Mailing Address

Office of the President–MS 1
Rice University
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892

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