Cory Booker to deliver 2013 commencement address

| News Editor

This time last year, Newark Mayor Cory Booker was all over the national media outlets when he saved a woman, his neighbor, from a fire in her house before the fire department arrived.

After the rescue, Booker, who now has over 1.3 million Twitter followers, wrote: “Thanks 2 all who are concerned. Just suffering smoke inhalation. We got the woman out of the house. We are both off to hospital. I will b ok.”

Booker, a Rhodes Scholar and Stanford University and Yale Law School graduate featured in Time’s 2011 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, will deliver the class of 2013’s commencement address this May.

Seniors clinked plastic cups of champagne at the announcement, made by Chancellor Mark Wrighton, at the annual Senior Class Toast held in Brookings Quad.

“Like you, he has been well educated, and I hope that you have lives and careers of purpose and meaning as great as this individual,” Wrighton said.

Now an illustrious public figure, Booker won his first election for City Council in 1998 at age 29.

In 2006, Booker won his second bid for mayor in a landslide 72-percent victory against his incumbent opponent, Ronald Rice.

Wrighton highlighted Booker’s social action in areas including education reform, new technologies, affordable housing and public safety.

Booker lived in a run-down public apartment complex for eight years, including a short time while he was mayor, and lived on a food stamp budget for seven days to raise awareness about poverty in his city.

“He’s dedicated his life to achieving social justice through individual action,” Wrighton said. “He is a person who has a deep commitment to making the world around him a better place.”

Seniors who had heard of the Newark mayor expressed approval and excitement about his selection and imminent speech.

Senior and Urban Studies major Ethan Lassiter considers Booker a star in his field.

“He’s such an agitator. In the same way that civil rights had racial issues, I think he brings urban issues to a national conscience more than anyone else I can think of—presidents, governors, celebrities, pundits…none of them expressly bring up the issues the way he does or addresses all of those issues,” Lassiter said. “I think he’s done more to fight for cities and fight for the poor people of cities—more than anyone else. Without him, no one would be talking about Newark.”

“He’s certainly not perfect, but he stirs things up. He makes controversy, which I think is very important,” he added.

Senior Katie Ayanian was also enthusiastic about the choice of Booker as commencement speaker.

“He’s accomplished a lot of cool things in a very short amount of time. He’s also just a very authentic person who will be a really good speaker,” Ayanian said. “I remember last year when he saved a woman from a burning building. That was a really big deal. I was very impressed.”

“I think he’s a big up-and-comer right now, especially in New Jersey,” she added.

Senior Luke Terrell said he is anxious to hear what the young mayor will say to him and his classmates.

“He’s a pretty young guy…I guess I only know of him for being a young influential mayor. And so I am excited to hear about what advice he has to give because he is successful and is someone who has been really influential to the people of our generation,” Terrell said.

Senior and New Jersey native Brittany Cronin said she is proud that a New Jersey mayor was selected to speak.

“I’m really excited that my home state is finally getting the recognition it deserves, and I think that he has done really great things for Newark,” Cronin said. “I’m glad that he’s getting recognition.”

  • Claude

    Booker spends very little time on his job as Newark Mayor. In fact, most of his time is spent earning generous honorariums at colleges and universities. It has made him a wealthy man. Was it P.T. Barnum that said a sucker is born every minute?

  • name

    This is the best we can do? I should have gone to Penn.

    • Violet Sunshine

      We wish you had, too.