Commencement speaker and L&S alumnus, Wally Adeyemo, followed a remarkable road to leadership

April 15, 2021

On a solemn late-summer afternoon in 2001, just a few days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, UC Berkeley student body president Wally Adeyemo stood with campus leaders on the steps of Doe Library and offered consolation and hope to the grief-stricken campus community.

Jenny Kwon, his friend since the early days of their freshman year, was among the 12,000 people on Memorial Glade that day, listening to insights that Adeyemo had drawn from the Bible and from history, and to his eloquent appeal that they should rise above anger and the desire for retribution.

“It was just very powerful,” Kwon recalled recently. “It seemed clear, even then — he’s going to be someone.”

Now, nearly 20 years later, Adeyemo is the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and he will speak to a new generation of Berkeley students: graduates of the Class of 2021.

Berkeley News