Class of 2022 expresses excitement for Allyson Felix’ commencement address

The decorated track star will deliver her speech to graduating seniors May 13.

A photo of Allyson Felix running.

Celebrated track & field Olympian Allyson Felix will give the keynote speech for the class of 2022 at this year’s 139th commencement ceremony. Felix graduated from USC in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree from the Rossier School of Education.

Felix continues a trend of prominent commencement speakers including Karen Bass, Will Ferrell, Kamala Harris and more.

“Her spirit and her message will inspire our students as they set out to make their mark on the world,” President Carol Folt said of Felix’s upcoming commencement speech in a statement.

Seniors and graduate students shared their excitement about the commencement. Sam Macrides, a senior majoring in health promotion and disease prevention studies, is also minoring in sports media industries. She has followed Felix’s career and said her story will be valuable for students.

“I think it makes it feel a little bit more special and kind of full circle because we get to see people who’ve graduated from USC who have gone on to do great things,” Macrides said. “I’m really excited. Everyone else I’ve talked to, even if they didn’t know [a lot] about her, has also been responding to it really well.”

Earnest Sears III, a graduate student majoring in entrepreneurship and innovation and communication who competes for the track & field team, said Felix is an inspiring figure for everyone.

“I think she kind of defied odds for a lot of people and showed not only women, but men that they can surpass whatever ideology or view that people box you in and defy the odds in a sense,” Sears III said.

As an Olympian, Felix is known for her gold-medal performances in the 200m in 2012 as well as her participation in the United States 4x200m relay teams which won gold in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020. Felix has won a total of 11 Olympic medals, seven of which were gold.

Throughout her 18-year running career, the mother of one has become an icon and female empowerment speaker. After her daughter was born prematurely at 32 weeks due to Felix’s diagnosis of preeclampsia, she became an advocate for maternal health and support, especially for women of color.

Felix is set to retire after the 2022 season, ending her nearly two-decade-long career.

“It’s kind of eye opening because she’s retiring this year, so it’s a good send off from somebody that’s ending her career,” Sears III said.