Campus News

Spring Commencement speakers announced

Allison Schmitt (left) and Jenna Jambeck.

Allison Schmitt to address undergraduate class, professor Jenna Jambeck to address graduate class

Allison Schmitt, one of the most decorated American athletes of all time and University of Georgia alumna, will deliver the spring undergraduate Commencement address at the University of Georgia on Friday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Sanford Stadium.

Jenna Jambeck, the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering at UGA, will deliver the graduate Commencement address on Thursday, May 9, at 10 a.m. for master’s and specialist degrees and at 2 p.m. for doctoral degrees. Both graduate ceremonies will take place in Stegeman Coliseum.

Schmitt received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UGA in 2014. She is a four-time Olympian and 10-time Olympic medalist in swimming. A veteran leader, Schmitt, who is called “Schmitty” by many of her friends and fellow athletes, was elected captain by her teammates at the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. She is still the current American record holder in the 200 meter freestyle, which she has held since 2009.

Schmitt is also an avid mental health advocate, and she has spoken widely about her personal struggles with depression and the loss of a family member to suicide. Schmitt is passionate about helping those battling mental health issues, and she graduated in May 2023—10 years after earning her bachelor’s degree from UGA—with a master’s degree in social work from Arizona State University.

She plans to use her degrees, her athletic experiences and her education skills to empower others to overcome personal battles.

Graduate speaker Jenna Jambeck, a 2022 MacArthur Fellow and founder of the Circularity Informatics Lab at UGA, has been conducting research on solid waste issues, marine debris and plastic pollution for two decades.

Jambeck’s research has resulted in international acclaim, and her work has received attention from Congressional leaders, the G7, the G20, and the United Nations Environment program. She has also conducted public environmental diplomacy as an international informational speaker for the U.S. Department of State since 2017.

She is co-developer of Marine Debris Tracker, a mobile app that leverages citizen scientists to identify trash and debris throughout the world. To date, users of the app have documented more than 8 million pieces of litter and debris.

For more information on UGA’s Commencement ceremony logistics, visit