The college has announced that the commencement speaker for PCC’s Spring 2016 graduation ceremony will be award-winning journalist Paula Williams Madison.
Madison has held many high-power positions throughout her career, beginning as a print reporter for the Syracuse Herald Journal in New York after graduating from Vassar College and working her way up to executive vice president and chief diversity officer for NBCUniversal, where she retired after 35 years of working in news media.
Madison is also recognized as being a catalyst for better representation for people of color in both the work place and in society as a whole. According to “Diversity Woman” magazine, Madison was the first African-American woman to run a network-owned station in a top-five market, KNBC in Los Angeles.
In an interview with “Diversity Woman” magazine, Madison explained that during her time at NBCUniversal she took many initiatives to help develop a more prominent role for people of color in the work place and in the media.
“We [NBCUniversal] developed two shows with diverse leading characters: “Undercovers” featuring a married African-American spy team, and The Event, in which Blair Underwood played a president who was both African-American and Latino,” said Madison. “We very much wanted a process by which racial and gender diversity were not adds-on, but integral from the inception of the project.”
Superintendent-President Rajen Vurdien recognized that Madison is a highly qualified speaker due to her achievements in the media industry, but also because of her diverse background.
“We are so lucky to have an executive of Ms. Madison’s caliber speak to our students at this year’s Commencement ceremony,” Vurdien wrote in a statment. “Growing up in Harlem as the daughter of immigrant parents from Jamaica and China, Paula’s life story is one that many of our students will find familiar. I’m sure her address will inspire and motivate our students as they transition beyond PCC. I very much look forward to welcoming her to our campus.”
Madison has also written a book about her process of uncovering her “rags-to-riches” American dream through the discovery of her heritage and journey of self identity called “Finding Samuel Lowe.” Her book chronicles her search to find her Chinese relatives, all beginning with her grandfather, Samuel Lowe.
A documentary film adaptation has also been made from her book.
Madison has won many awards throughout her career, such as Woman of the Year Award from the Los Angeles County Commission for Women in 2002 and the National Association of Black Journalists’ 2010 Legacy Award, just to name a few.
PCC’s spring graduation will take place on May 6 at 7 p.m.