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Many colleges have lined up media stars instead of politicians. Smith College, a women's college in Northampton, Mass., will host Rachel Maddow, political analyst and host of MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show." Maddow is a Rhodes Scholar who earned a degree in public policy from Stanford University and a doctorate from Oxford University. She is also one of the first openly gay media professionals. Samantha Young, a Smith senior who returned to college after working as a chef in Washington, D.C., admires Maddow and has a photo of her on her mantle. Maddow is a "great example of a powerful woman," Young believes. "She has complete agency in her own life. She's not compromising who she is because she's on TV."
Anderson Cooper, anchor of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360°," will speak to Tulane University's graduates in the Louisiana Superdome. He is no stranger to the Gulf Coast, having spent a month reporting about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. He has returned to New Orleans more than 20 times since. Rebecca George, a senior at Tulane who will join Teach for America after graduation, says her class is the first to attend the university after Katrina hit. The students worked hard to help rebuild the community, she says. "I'm hoping, as a graduating senior, to hear what's inspired him so much to give back to the world. It'd be interesting to hear about why he's continued coming back to New Orleans, especially after what's happened has been easily forgotten by others."
While all of these students say they are anticipating hearing career advice from their commencement speakers, Kappus of Emory University also hopes Schwarzenegger adds some levity to his speech. "I'd be great to hear him say, 'Hasta la vista, class of 2010.'"
Corrected on 04/29/10: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of community service hours completed by the George Washington University community. The correct number is 106,000 hours.