Alumni Journalist Tom Junod Will Be Featured Commencement Speaker

Tom Junod, in a blue blazer and white shirt
Tom Junod, speaking in the Standish Room at UAlbany. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 12, 2022) — An award-winning writer and journalist and a student researcher will address graduating seniors and their friends and families Saturday at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony, set for 10 a.m. at the University’s Entry Plaza.

Tom Junod, who graduated from UAlbany in 1980 with a degree in English, is this year’s alumni Commencement speaker. Junod, a senior writer for ESPN, is the winner of two National Magazine Awards and a James Beard Award. His 1998 profile of Fred Rogers in Esquire magazine was the inspiration for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the 2019 movie starring Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers. Junod’s moving tribute in The Atlantic in December 2019, after Roger’s death, talks about their friendship, Roger’s kindness and what the world lost in his passing.

Junod visited UAlbany in May of 2019, offering commentary and answering questions at a New York State Writers Institute screening of the 2018 Fred Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, in which Junod appears. He also was a Writers Institute guest in 2015.

A woman in a white lab coat and blue medical gloves is pictured in a lab
Ché-Doni Platt does research in the Halvorsen Lab in the RNA Institute. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

The student commencement speaker is Ché-Doni Platt, a graduating senior from Kingston, Jamaica. Platt a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major who does research in the Halvorsen Lab in the RNA Institute. She plans to become a doctor, specializing either in surgery or obstetrics/gynecology She has received numerous research grants and is the recipient of the Spring 2022 President’s Outstanding Senior Award and International Student Leadership Award.

Platt notes that this year’s graduates had half their college experiences transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were soldiers, playing our part in advancing the welfare of humanity,” she says. “We even went further, protesting for social justice, equity and the fall of racism.”