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Wendy Kopp ’89, founder of Teach for America, named 2022 Baccalaureate speaker

Wendy Kopp speaks at the Annual Meeting 2012 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 26, 2012.
“Wendy Kopp - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012” by Sebastian Derungs / CC BY-SA 2.0

Wendy Kopp ’89, Founder of Teach for America and CEO of Teach for All, has been chosen as the speaker for the Princeton Class of 2022 Baccalaureate Ceremony. Kopp was announced as speaker in an email to seniors from their class government.

Kopp was chosen as Baccalaureate Speaker by the Committee on Honorary Degrees and approved by the Board of Trustees. According to the University statement, the invitation to Kopp noted, “Your commitment to educational equity and social entrepreneurship makes you an outstanding role model for our students, particularly given that Teach For America grew from your senior thesis ‘A Plan and Argument for the Creation of a National Teacher Corps.’ From Teach For America to Teach For All, you have truly embodied what it means to be ‘in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.’”


In response to the announcement, Kopp expressed her excitement at being selected to speak at the Baccalaureate Ceremony. 

"I feel so much gratitude to Princeton for all the opportunities it afforded me, and for that thesis requirement which helped birth Teach For America and ultimately Teach For All!  I’m really looking forward to coming back to campus and speaking with the Class of 2022,“ Kopp wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian.

Kopp graduated with a degree in the School of Public and International Affairs in 1989. She was a member of Business Today and the University Press Club.

After graduation, Kopp founded Teach For America, a non-profit organization that focuses on combating educational inequities. Teach for America recruits diverse leaders, or “corps members,” who commit to teaching for two years in low-income communities in the United States. Teach for America currently serves more than 50 regions and has nearly 62,000 people in its alumni and corps member network. 

In 2007, Kopp co-founded Teach For All, a global network that now includes 61 independent partner organizations, to assist social entrepreneurs around the world who are determined to adapt this approach in their own countries.


Kopp is the youngest person and the first woman to receive Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson Award (1993). She is also the recipient of numerous other awards, including the The Schwab Foundation's Outstanding Social Entrepreneur Award (2008), the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement (2006), and the Presidential Citizens Medal (2008).

Kopp was recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the 40 most promising leaders under 40 in 1994. Kopp was later named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in 2008. She holds honorary doctorate degrees from 15 universities, including Washington University in St. Louis, Princeton University, Harvard University, and Dartmouth College

She is also an author who has written One Day, All Children: The Unlikely Triumph of Teach For America and What I Learned Along the Way (2001) and A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn't in Providing an Excellent Education for All (2011).

The 2022 Baccalaureate Ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, May 22 at 2 p.m. in the University Chapel. Members of the Class of 2022 are given two tickets for guests to attend a simulcast.

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This story is breaking and will be updated with additional information as it becomes available.

Lia Opperman is a news contributor for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at or @liamariaaaa on Instagram.