The Rutgers University Board of Governors confirmed that Newark’s own Queen Latifah will deliver the keynote address at the Rutgers University − Newark Commencement Ceremony on May 14, 2018 at the Prudential Center.
Selected for this honor by a committee of students, faculty, and staff, the hip-hop icon, award-winning actress, singer/song-writer, producer, entrepreneur, and humanitarian will also receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. “Queen Latifah is inspiring to us as students because she always projects herself through her work as a strong woman,” said RU-N undergraduate Adebimpe Elegbeyele, who served on the commencement selection committee. “She shows young women that we can do that too and young men that they need to respect that.”
An Award-winning Entertainer and Trailblazer
Born in Newark and raised in East Orange, New Jersey, Queen Latifah has earned a Grammy, Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, two BET Awards, two Teen Choice Awards, and numerous other accolades of national and international distinction. At the age of 21, she organized and became CEO of Flavor Unit Records and Management Company based in Jersey City, New Jersey. By 1993, the label had 17 signed artists. In 1995, her label won its first Grammy for a song she composed, “U.N.I.T.Y.,” which became an anthem rallying young women to self-love and mutual support, demonstrating the ways in which Queen Latifah leverages her talent to pursue the proverbial “double bottom line” of doing well and doing good by drawing attention to issues of social importance. More recently, she co-starred in the acclaimed comedy “Girls Trip,” which was chosen by Time magazine as one of its top 10 films of 2017.
A Humanitarian and Philanthropist Who Never Forgot Her Newark Roots
Queen Latifah founded a scholarship foundation for low-income youth and has worked to mitigate home foreclosures in disadvantaged neighborhoods. These were just some of the reasons why she received Newark Beth Israel Medical Center’s Community Award in 2013. Queen Latifah also has been an effective advocate for international initiatives such as ‘Let Girls Learn,’ the campaign started by former First Lady Michelle Obama, that strives to provide support to 62 million girls around the world who do not have access to education. She is currently the spokesperson for the American Heart Association's ‘Rise Above Heart Failure’ initiative. Other causes she has supported include the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Save The Music Foundation.
“Queen Latifah has been a consistent supporter of Newark and a source of inspiration for creative people and entrepreneurs in our city and throughout the world,” said Lyneir Richardson, Executive Director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers – Newark. “She is an inspiring role model of excellence for Rutgers – Newark. I have seen, up close, her creative spirit, entrepreneurial drive and deep-rooted connection to inclusive urban community revitalization.”