Award-winning actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross is now a member of the Spelman College family. She received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the renowned historically Black women’s college during the 136th Commencement on Sunday.
Students at the school nominated the “Black-ish” star, and the school’s Board of Trustees voted to give her the honor.
“Congratulations, Tracee, welcome to the Spelman family,” Spelman College President Dr. Helene Gayle said Sunday.
After being honored, Ross, also the founder and CEO of PATTERN Beauty, spoke to the graduating class about the joy she felt being among them.
“When I get to swim in the particularly special current of Black sisterhood, my heart rate settles, my shoulders drop, and I am reminded of my worthiness because I see yours,” she said to those in attendance.
“The world view of Black women is not elastic in its ability to see our worthiness and our wholeness,” she continued, “even as we continue to exceed, excel and shine.”
Ross also shared some powerful words of advice with graduates and their families.
”Make space for yourself, for your whole self,” she said. “Your joy, your power, your fear, your loneliness, your insecurities, your pleasure, your passion, your dreams. Let there be space for all of it. In the private moments when you meet yourself, allow all of you to be present without judgment.”
She also encouraged the graduates not to “be afraid to be bad at something.” And she told them to remember the safety and acceptance they experienced in their college community as they head out into the world.
“May the safety and belonging of these walls send you forward in your choice to change the world with the protection of your sisters and your ancestors — and with me, your best friend in your head,” she said.