U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell ’86 will speak at Princeton 2023 Class Day

The Class of 2023 has announced that U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, a Class of 1986 graduate and Board of Trustees member, will give remarks at this year’s Class Day ceremony scheduled for Monday, May 29, on Cannon Green.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell

Sewell was first elected to represent Alabama’s District 7 in 2010, and she is the first Black woman to serve in the Alabama Congressional delegation. She grew up in Alabama and spent her career as a judicial clerk and attorney in New York and Alabama prior to serving in Congress.

Class Day, which takes place the day before Princeton’s Commencement, is organized by members of the senior class. The ceremony also includes speeches by graduating seniors, the recognition of class members for their contributions and the induction of honorary class members.

“Congresswoman Sewell’s story is an inspiration to all of us,” Class Day Committee members Fatinah Albeez, Ryan Champeau, Douglas Robins, Jake Snyder and Zyan Wynn said in a video message to fellow seniors.

The Class of 2023 students continued: “From being the proud daughter of the first Black city councilwoman in Selma to being elected the first Black woman to serve in the Alabama Congressional delegation, Congresswoman Sewell has demonstrated her commitment to uplifting the voices of those who have been historically silenced for too long. In keeping this priority at the forefront of her career, our Class Day speaker embodies the Princeton motto to be in the service of our nation and of humanity.”

Prior to serving in Congress, Sewell was the first Black woman partner in the Birmingham law office of Maynard, Cooper and Gale, distinguishing herself as one of the leading public finance lawyers in the state. The first Black valedictorian of Selma High School, Sewell received her bachelor’s degree in public and international affairs and a certificate in African American studies from Princeton, a master’s in politics from Oxford University, and a law degree from Harvard Law School.

Sewell was elected to Princeton’s Board of Trustees in 2019. In 2020, she received the Whig-Cliosophic Society’s highest honor, the James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service.

During her time in Congress, Sewell has held several leadership positions, including Freshman Class President and Chief Deputy Whip. She currently sits on the House Ways and Means Committee. Sewell is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, where she is co-chair of the Voting Rights Task Force. She also is co-chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, vice chair of the Congressional Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus, co-chair the Rural Caucus and a member of the New Democrat Coalition.

Sewell embodies the Class of 2023's "resolve to succeed in the most challenging of times," said Class Day Committee senior leaders Albeez and Snyder.

“In serving on Class Council throughout the pandemic, we remain in admiration of the immense perseverance and grit demonstrated by our fellow classmates," said Albeez, class vice president, and Snyder, class social chair. "In having Congresswoman Sewell as our 2023 Class Day speaker, we look forward to hearing her advice as our great class exits through the FitzRandolph Gate to make an impact on the world.”

Class Day co-chairs Champeau, Robins and Wynn added: "From the lows of the pandemic to highs of our basketball teams making history, our class has shown perseverance, kindness, and a Princeton spirit like no other. We look forward to learning from Congresswoman Sewell, sporting our class jackets, and celebrating the Great Class of 2023 at Class Day.”

Commencement 2023