A world-class institute of changemakers in the deaf and signing community.
Since 1864, we have been investing in and creating resources for deaf and hard of hearing children, their families, and the professionals who work with them.
Over 50 degree programs, with online and continuing education for personal and professional development.
Innovating solutions to break down barriers, and using science to prove what does and doesn’t work.
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May 14, 2021 | 2:00 p.m. ET LIVE
We look forward to celebrating your accomplishments with your friends, families, and loved ones during our virtual ceremony! This year’s commencement ceremony will celebrate the graduation of both Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 students.
Last year, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the Class of 2020 elected to defer their commencement to the year 2021, in hopes of an in-person celebration, and hosted a virtual conferring of degrees ceremony instead.
As the end of the spring 2021 semester approaches, it is clear that Gallaudet University must prioritize the safety of our Gallaudet students and community. Gallaudet has elected to host commencement virtually for both the class of 2020 and 2021 this year.
Have questions or concerns? Contact the commencement committee. Our Frequently Answered Questions is coming soon!
BiographyCharles “CJ” Jones will be keynote speaker at this year’s Commencement for the Classes of 2020 and 2021. He also will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
CJ is a world-renowned Black Deaf performing artist, and a leading advocate and champion for the inclusion and representation of people with disabilities at all levels in all forms of media. During his illustrious career, he has been an actor, producer, director, writer, entertainer, emcee, storyteller, mime, American Sign Language song-signer, motivational speaker, African and Cajun drummer, dancer, rapper, and ASL and Deaf culture consultant. CJ played Joseph, the caring father to Ansel Elgort’s Baby in Baby Driver, and will reprise that role in Baby Driver 2. He also created the Na’vi Sign Language for James Cameron’s Avatar 2, due out in late December 2022.
CJ established Sign World Studios and its nonprofit subsidiary, SignLight, to promote the inclusion of deaf and hard of hearing people in cinema.
B.S. Biology and B.S. Public Health | '20 | Undergraduate
M.A. Sign Language Education | '20 | Graduate
B.A. Deaf Studies | '21 | Undergraduate
M.A. International Development and M.A. Sign Language Education | '21 | Graduate
Department of Social Work
When the pandemic began in March 2021, the Class of 2020 elected to postpone their graduation to 2021 in the hopes of experiencing a live Commencement. Gallaudet University hosted a virtual “Conferring of Degrees” ceremony in May 2020 to recognize that the Class of 2020 had completed their studies.
Because of the ongoing pandemic, Gallaudet University must continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of its students, faculty, staff, and community. Gallaudet announced in November 2020 that the University will host a virtual graduation for both graduating classes, the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021. We look forward to celebrating all of your accomplishments together.
You can watch the Commencement ceremony on Facebook, Youtube, or the Gallaudet University’s Commencement webpage. The event will be captioned and interpreted for our entire campus community, our students’ friends, families, and loved ones.
The Office of the Registrar will reach out to graduating students when it is time to mail out diplomas. Students must ensure that their mailing address is up to date. This can be verified by logging in to Bison. Send mailing address updates to email@example.com.
We look forward to mailing out your diplomas!
Gallaudet University is a federally chartered private and premier university for the deaf and hard of hearing since 1864.
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Biology and Public Health Science | '20 | Undergraduate
Aashni Kamra, from Los Angeles, California, graduated magna cum laude with University Honors from Gallaudet in 2020 with bachelor’s degrees in biology and public health. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles.
As a research assistant in the Department of Science, Technology, and Mathematics, Aashni studied Rett’s Disease protein mutations using computational chemistry. She presented her research at several conferences, including the University of Maryland at Baltimore County Undergraduate Research Symposium in Chemical and Biological Sciences. She served as a liaison leader for Gallaudet’s COVID-19 Student Response Team. In her Honors capstone, she investigated satisfaction rates of Deaf mothers, comparing hospital and home births. Her research touched a largely marginalized community and contributed to ideas on how to improve health outcomes for this group. Aashni gave a presentation and led a panel discussion at the United Nations Federation of Inclusive and Adolescent Responsive Health Services. She was an active member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
Aashni is a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the National Cancer Institute in the National Institutes of Health. In her work, she focuses on understanding the genetics behind metastatic breast cancer. She has been an invited speaker for several panels, and has further realized her passion for providing effective scientific and healthcare intervention within marginalized communities.
Sign Language Education | '20 | Graduate
BiographyHunta Williams is a Black DeafBlind Transman. He hails from New York City. He attended four different deaf schools and graduated from Lexington School for the Deaf. Hunta received a Bachelor of Science degree in culinary management at The Art Institutes International Minnesota. He furthered his education at the graduate level by earning his master’s degree in sign language education from Gallaudet University in 2020. Professionally, Hunta has worked as an American Sign Language teacher, tutor, sign model, Deaf interpreter, DeafBlind interpreter, and sign language specialist.
Hunta has put his professional skills to use in the community, providing his expertise on topics such as individual and disability rights advocacy, linguistic and cultural competency, sensitivity, and awareness. As if he is not busy enough, Hunta remains active in the community. He is currently board chair for the 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities, and serves on the 20% Theatre ASL Access Committee. Additionally, Hunta works tirelessly with the Transgender Equity Council and within the transgender community.
Deaf Studies | '21 | Undergraduate
BiographyLily Weir experienced severe language deprivation until seventh grade, when she was introduced to American Sign Language. She graduated from the University High School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program in Irvine, California in 2017, and came to Gallaudet the following fall. A Deaf Studies major, she was on the Dean’s List every semester, received a National Society of Leadership and Success award, and was a winner in the Microsoft ASL + AI: A Future Casting Competition.
Lily has worked as a Department of Public Safety welcome ambassador, a Maguire Welcome Center student ambassador, and a remote camp counselor. She completed an internship at the National Association for the Deaf, assisting the Policy Counsel. This past year, while studying remotely, she worked as a school substitute at the Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, Massachusetts. She is now an elementary classroom assistant. This fall, she will begin to study for her master’s degree in language and literacy, with a focus in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies at Boston University. Lily is a strong advocate for American Sign Language, and seeks to work with deaf children and their families to end language deprivation.
International Development and Sign Language | '21 | Graduate
BiographyNageena Ahmadzai will receive a dual master’s degree in international development and sign language education. Originally from the Bay Area in California, she earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in social work at California State University at Northridge. She came to Washington, D.C., for an employment opportunity; later, she decided to enroll in Gallaudet’s graduate program.
A first-generation Afghan-American Deaf woman, Nageena has always had a passion for human rights advocacy, emphasizing sign language rights, gender equity and social inclusion, inclusive education, and disability rights. She acknowledges how blessed she is to have access to education, language, gender equity, and self-advocacy. Many countries, including Afghanistan, do not allow Deaf children, girls, and women to obtain an education. In particular, these countries create barriers for Deaf children to acquire language at an early age. Nageena is determined to work to break down these barriers. She is currently an intern with the Advancing Higher Education for Afghanistan’s Development (AHEAD) program at FHI360, a nonprofit human development organization.
Nageena firmly believes that her multidimensional identities as an Afghan-American Deaf woman have genuinely shaped her to this day. She hopes to continue advocating for human rights in her future endeavors and share her story to inspire young Afghan deaf girls and young Deaf individuals globally.
Spring 2021 – Dec 12Fall 2021 – May 15