Kim Kardashian, Shaquille O'Neal, Kristen Bell and other celebrities will also deliver messages during the graduation event

By Sean Neumann
May 19, 2021 12:48 PM
Advertisement
Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris
| Credit: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty

Vice President Kamala Harris will be the unofficial commencement speaker for millions of young Americans graduating from high school or college this weekend.

CNN announced on Wednesday that Harris, 56, will deliver a keynote speech during the network's televised graduation special on Sunday night, airing at 7 p.m. EST.

Harris will be joined by a star-studded lineup of speakers, including reality star Kim Kardashian West, actress Kristen Bell, NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal and rapper Ludacris.

The network announced athletes like Candace Parker, Dwyane Wade, and Russell Wilson will also deliver remarks, as well as actress Brianne Howey, TikTok star Loren Gray and OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder.

The special will be hosted by CNN anchors Brianna Keilar and Don Lemon and "comes as many schools across the country plan virtual ceremonies for the second year in a row because of the pandemic," the network says.

Last year, many politicians and celebrities gave virtual commencement speeches as the coronavirus forced most schools to shut down just weeks before the end of the year.

USA Today reported Wednesday that Harris will also deliver a keynote address at the U.S. Naval Academy's graduation ceremony later this month, while President Joe Biden will deliver a commencement speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday morning.

Harris previously gave a commencement address at her alma mater, Howard University, in 2017.

The vice president has already been doling out congratulations this graduation season. Her stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff, graduated from The New School's Parsons School of Design in New York City.

"Congratulations to our daughter Ella on her graduation," the vice president wrote on Instagram. "I am so proud of you. Keep dreaming with ambition and there is nothing you cannot achieve. Love, Momala."

The U.S. has crept closer to schools reopening nationwide as the country's vaccine rollout has reached the arms of more than 158 million Americans, or nearly half the country. 

The CDC reported last month that about 80% of teachers, school staff, and childcare workers are vaccinated. 

CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said the push for all eligible Americans to get vaccinated for the virus has "paved the way for safer in-person learning," with President Biden expressing hope for schools to fully reopen by the fall.