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Tucker Student Spotlight

Eliza Rockefeller '17

Eliza Rockefeller
Assistant for Multi-Faith Programs

Major: Religion Major and Studio Art Minor

Hometown: New York City, NY

Read the full interview



The Baccalaureate service seems to have originated in a 1432 Oxford University statute, which required each bachelor to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of his academic exercise. Because the earliest universities in this country were founded primarily to educate ministers, the British practice of a Baccalaureate Service was continued.

At Dartmouth, it was an integral part of Senior Week until Commencement itself was moved from Wednesday, when it had historically occurred, to Sunday, at which time it absorbed the Baccalaureate. This change occurred in 1939 to conform to weekend customs of the outside world.

Today, the Baccalaureate service is an multi-faith occasion of thanksgiving and celebration for the completion of the undergraduate and graduate careers. The service is intended to incorporate a variety of traditions, languages, and perspectives.

Campus ministers and advisors representing many of the religious traditions and student religious organizations at Dartmouth join the selected speakers on the dais. Also on the dais are representatives from the Dean of the Faculty and the Dean of the College offices.

2015 Baccalaureate

June 13, 2015
3:00 PM
Rollins Chapel

Baccalaureate Speaker: Rashida Tlaib

Rashida Tlaib

With the belief that everyone, not just the wealthy and privileged, deserves access to opportunity and a better quality of life, Rashida Tlaib has dedicated her life to amplifying the concerns of the marginalized in Detroit, and across the state and country.

Rashida made history in 2008 by becoming the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature, and only the second Muslim state legislator in the country. She quickly became a leader amongst her peers and was appointed as the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News recognized her service when they said, respectively, “Rashida has an unshakable work ethic” and “there’s no harder worker or stronger voice for her constituents.”

Politically, Rashida’s legacy is largely her accomplishments fighting budget battles and shaping legislation on jail diversion programs, child literacy, scrap metal theft, and a myriad of other social justice issues. Yet for Rashida’s constituents, her legacy centers more on her creation of a neighborhood service center on a shoestring budget, which provided direct advocacy on issues like environmental justice and anti-poverty services, like foreclosure and utility shutoff prevention.  This innovative approach to public service literally touched tens of thousands of lives, and represented Rashida's promise to her community to improve the lives of the families she represented.

Rashida’s experience growing up the eldest of 14 children helped prepare her for public office and community advocacy. The first in her family to attend college, she also put herself through law school while working at local nonprofits and social justice organizations, like ACCESS, the nation’s largest Arab American social service agency.

One of Rashida’s signature fights for her community was holding billionaire Matty Moroun, the owner of an international bridge in her district, accountable for his business’ injuries to the community. When the Koch Brothers tried dumping toxic materials along the Detroit River, she personally collected samples and took her case to the Rachel Maddow Show. Her epic battles against powerful interests, including liberating an illegally-seized public park, fighting dark-money-financed recall attempts, and literally laying in front of semi-trucks to protest school closings, illustrate the tenacity the 125,000 residents she represented in her six years as a legislator know her for.

Rashida has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Role Model Award from Alternatives for Girls, After School Champion national award, CAIR Michigan’s Empowering Muslims Award, Clean Water Action’s Clean Water Hero award, recognized as one of Crain's Detroit Business Women to Watch and featured in PBS’ Makers Documentary on Women in Politics.

She is currently the Community Partnerships and Development Director at the Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice and manages the Campaign to Take on Hate, a racial justice movement to prevent the increase of hate crimes in the U.S. Rashida received her bachelor's in political science from Wayne State University and her law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School. She lives in Southwest Detroit with her husband and two young sons.


A list of past Baccalaureate speakers is available beginning in 2004.

Last Updated: 4/16/15