National Geographic magazine photographer, filmmaker and explorer Ami Vitale, who has traveled to more than 100 countries, will be the 2020 commencement speaker for Salem College’s Commencement which will take place on Saturday, May 23 at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 2825 University Parkway in Winston-Salem, N.C. The procession will begin at 10 a.m.
“At our commencement, Ami will share her powerful story about her worldwide work as a storyteller, environmental advocate, and women’s leader,” Salem Academy and College President Sandra J. Doran said. “Ami is a role model for young women and exemplifies Salem’s focus on preparing graduates to make a bold impact locally, nationally, and globally.”
“Salem College empowers women through transformative education, creating future leaders,” said President Doran. “Boundless opportunities lie ahead for the Salem College Class of 2020, and I look forward to hearing Ms. Vitale’s inspiring message for our graduates this spring as they leave Salem to forge their own paths to global leadership.”
During her worldwide travel, Vitale has been a witness not only to violence and conflict but also to surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. Throughout the years, she has lived in mud huts and war zones, contracted malaria, and donned a panda suit—keeping true to her belief in the importance of “living the story.” Ami will share her work that National Geographic is showcasing about both iconic women around the world along with the cover story of National Geographic magazine about our fragile relationship with the natural world. She is a part of the film “Women of Impact” about to be released which illuminates, celebrates and reflects on where the world’s women have been, where they are now and where they are going.
“Instyle Magazine” named Vitale one of 50 Badass Women, a series celebrating women who show up, speak up, and get things done. She appeared alongside a group of incredible women including Jane Goodall, Christiane Amanpour, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Vitale was named Magazine Photographer of the Year in the International Photographer of the Year prize, received the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting, and was named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographer’s Association, among other awards.
She is a five-time recipient of World Press Photo awards, including First Place for her 2018 “National Geographic” magazine story about a community in Kenya protecting elephants. Vitale recently published a best-selling book, “Panda Love,” on the secret lives of pandas. She was the subject of the “Mission Cover Shot” series on the National Geographic Channel as well as another documentary series featuring “Madagascar (Over the Islands of Africa).” Vitale lectures for National Geographic and frequently gives workshops around the world to empower communities to tell their own narratives.
Her photographs have been commissioned by nearly every international publication and exhibited around the world in museums and galleries. Vitale is a founding member of Ripple Effect Images, an organization of renowned female scientists, writers, photographers, and filmmakers working together to create powerful and persuasive stories that shed light on the hardships women in developing countries face and the programs that can help them. She is also on the Photojournalism Advisory Council for the Alexia Foundation.
About Salem Academy and College
Salem Academy and College is the oldest educational institution for girls and women in the United States. With more than 18,000 alumnae who serve as entrepreneurs, physicians, researchers, artists, lawyers, teachers, community volunteers, and corporate executives, Salem Academy and Salem College continues to educate the next generation of global leaders. For more information about Salem Academy, please visit salemacademy.com. For more information about Salem College, please visit salem.edu.