HIGH POINT — An astronaut who was scheduled to deliver both of High Point University’s commencement addresses next month has backed out.
NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, an engineer and physician who became the first woman of color to travel to space, is not able to make the trip to High Point for personal reasons, the university announced Tuesday.
Jemison had been scheduled to serve as keynote speaker in May 2020 before the pandemic compelled HPU to switch to a remote graduation service, and HPU said last month that she would speak at the two outdoor, in-person commencement ceremonies — one for the class of 2020 and one for the class of 2021 — scheduled for May 7 and 8.
Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall, the CEO of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, will deliver the commencement addresses instead.
Marshall also serves as HPU’s Sports Executive in Residence, regularly visiting campus to mentor students and hosting students at the Mavericks headquarters for externships.
HPU President Nido Qubein called Marshall “an incredible leader who has risen to the top of her career in multiple sectors.”
“Her life is a testament to the fact that your present circumstances don’t determine where you’ll go, they merely determine where you start,” he said.
She began her career at AT&T in 1981 and held a variety of positions in network engineering, operations, external and legislative affairs. Marshall was tapped as the president of AT&T North Carolina before completing a 36-year career as a senior vice president for AT&T nationally. When she was asked to lead the Mavericks in 2018, she became the first Black female CEO in the history of the NBA.
Both graduation ceremonies will be at 10 a.m. along HPU’s Innovation Corridor, which provides more than 204,000-square-feet of space. Graduates can bring up to six guests each. The public is not allowed, but the ceremonies will be streamed live at http://www.highpoint.edu/live.