Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi Announced as SUA’s 2022 Commencement Speaker

March 11, 2022
Headshot of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, Keynote Speaker at the 2022 commencement ceremoy.

Soka University of America announced Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi as keynote speaker of the 2022 commencement ceremony. The ceremony, which will be SUA’s first in-person commencement since 2019, is scheduled for 2 p.m. May 27 in the Soka Performing Arts Center.

This will mark Ebadi’s first visit to Soka in more than a decade. She first visited campus in 2010 together with late Nobel Peace Laureate, Betty Williams, for a public lecture and question-and-answer session with students.

“We are so pleased to welcome Dr. Ebadi back to SUA to share her words of wisdom with our graduates,” Dean of Students Hyon Moon said. “Her life’s work embodies the essential elements of global citizenship—wisdom, courage, and compassion—and serves as a role model for our future leaders of society.”

Ebadi is the first woman to serve as a judge in Iran. Not long after beginning her work as a judge in 1969, she obtained her doctorate in private law from Tehran University in 1971 and went on to hold several positions in Iran’s Justice Department.

After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, which transformed nearly every facet of Iranian legal and civil life, Ebadi and her fellow female judges were fired and assigned clerical duties. Ebadi soon found herself clerking in the same court she’d recently presided over.

Facing this intolerable new reality, Ebadi retired early and applied to Iran’s Bar Association, only to have her application rejected numerous times over the next decade. Finally, in 1992, she obtained her law license and founded her own practice.

Ebadi has since represented journalists in cases related to freedom of expression; proposed a law that was ratified in 2002 that prohibits all forms of violence against children in Iran; led research projects for the UNICEF office in Tehran; co-founded the Association for Support of Children’s Rights and a center for human rights in Iran; and delivered more than 30 university lectures and seminars on human rights around the world.

Ebadi lives in exile in London due to increased persecution targeting Iranian citizens critical of the current regime. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 “for her efforts for democracy and human rights” and her decades-long focus “on the struggle for the rights of women and children.”