Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is NEIT speaker; John Hazen White Jr. to be honored
Basketball legend, author, actor, award-winning film producer and community activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will deliver the commencement address to New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) graduates on Sunday, May 5 at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer with 38,387 points. He is a 19-time All Star and six-time Most Valuable Player, famous for his indefensible skyhook, a shot opposing players found impossible to block. With 20 years in the NBA, the 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center had one of the longest careers in professional sports.
Born and raised in Harlem, Abdul-Jabbar has written seven best-selling books on historical subjects as varied as World War II, the Harlem Renaissance basketball team, and the impact of African-American inventors. He is also an award-winning filmmaker. He won two 2013 NAACP Image Awards for his documentary, “On the Shoulders of Giants,” and a children’s book he co-authored called “What Color is My World.” He is a pop culture columnist for Esquire Magazine and Huffington Post. He has continued the comedic acting career he started with the movie “Airplane!” and has appeared in dozens of films and TV series. He’s most recently made appearances on “New Girl” and “Guys with Kids,” and is starring in a new reality competition called “Splash” on ABC.
Abdul-Jabbar has had a lifelong commitment to social justice and equality and is dedicated to bringing history and social studies to children around the globe. His Skyhook Foundation, ‘Gives Kids a Shot that Can’t be Blocked,’ by enhancing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) through literacy in under-served communities. In 2012, he was named a U.S. Cultural Ambassador by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. He was also appointed California’s After School STEM Ambassador. He is a passionate advocate for cancer research and healthy living. He will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters during New England Tech’s commencement.
An honorary doctor of humane letters will also be presented to John Hazen White Jr., who is a prominent Rhode Island business leader and civic activist. White is president of Taco, Inc., a third-generation, $200 million manufacturing company headquartered in Cranston. White is deeply committed to education and to the arts. He also works to improve Rhode Island’s business and political climate. He writes a bi-weekly newspaper column that focuses on issues of concern to Rhode Islanders and has hosted a public affairs and advocacy TV show called “Lookout.” He is a visiting professor and trustee at Johnson & Wales University, and a trustee of Wheaton College and of the Williston Northampton School. He has served on the boards of the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, Women & Infants’ Hospital and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Center for Performance Excellence. He was also the founding member of the Rhode Island Manufacturing Summit, a non-partisan coalition of manufacturing and business interests that worked to improve manufacturing in the Ocean State.
This year marks New England Institute of Technology’s 72nd commencement ceremony. Commencement begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 5 at the Rhode Island Convention Center. More than 1,000 students will receive associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.