Whittier College Welcomes Entrepreneur Jasmine Star ’02 As Commencement Speaker

April 2, 2024

CommencementWherever she goes, Jasmine Star casts a bright light.

A CEO, motivational speaker, and podcast host with more than half a million followers on social media, she is no stranger to center stage and shines in front of a crowd. Star graduated from Whittier herself in 2002, the emotional capstone to an especially difficult period for their family.

“My father pushed my mother’s wheelchair up a ramp into the Whittier College stadium, where they sat in the front row waiting to see their daughter graduate – a first for our immigrant family,” she recalled. “My mother was diagnosed with brain cancer, so her presence felt like a moment equally as monumental as receiving my diploma.”

Twenty-two years later, Star charts a triumphant return to her alma mater as the keynote speaker at its 121st Commencement. She hopes her experience will inspire the next generation of Poets to follow their dreams. 

“When my name was announced, my parents cheered, and I thought – finally – my life had begun. Little did I realize that my journey would be filled with unexpected pitfalls, trials, peaks, and successes, each requiring me to leverage character traits I developed as a Poet,” said Star. “Determination, patience, and resilience became the pillars of my life after graduation, and I’m honored to share how these lessons have empowered me to build a career, family, and a life I love, with hopes that the 2024 graduating class will do the same.”

Star will deliver her poignant remarks in an address to graduates and their families and friends at the event on Thursday, May 9, which starts at 4 p.m. in Memorial Stadium. 

“I am absolutely delighted that Jasmine will be returning to our campus and sharing her positive outlook with the Class of 2024,” said Interim President Kristine Dillon ’73. “As we salute our students for their many significant achievements as they embark on their next chapters, I have no doubt her trajectory will serve as an inspiration and a fitting example of Poet Pride in our graduates.”

Whittier will also confer two honorary degrees during the ceremony. Businessman Fred Claire and activist and social entrepreneur Faisal Saeed Al Mutar will receive honorary doctorates of Humane Letters, Whittier College’s highest honor, reserved for individuals with outstanding convictions, ambitions, values, and accomplishments and exceptional moral fiber.  

This year’s distinguished honorees will have the opportunity to offer some words of encouragement and advice to the 250 undergraduate and graduate students receiving their degrees. 

In addition to Commencement, Whittier College will host a series of related festivities in the days prior, including Cultural Graduation celebrations and Senior Convocation, which returns from hiatus for the first time since the pandemic.

Keynote Speaker

Jasmine (Juarez) Star ’02Jasmine (Juarez) Star ’02 grew up in Southern California and attended Whittier with her twin sister Bianca (Juarez) Olthoff. After getting her professional start as a wedding photographer, she became a business strategist for creative entrepreneurs and founded a tech company called Social Curator. A first-generation Latinx college student and daughter of immigrants, Star took a chance on her nontraditional career path after quitting law school at UCLA to start her own business. Her boldness paid off. Star is a CEO, motivational speaker, thought leader, and podcast host helping her fans reach their fullest potential.


Honorary Doctorate Recipients

Fred ClaireFred Claire is an acclaimed Major League Baseball executive who worked for the Los Angeles Dodgers for 30 years, including as general manager from 1987-1998. Since his departure from the team, he has served on the boards of the Rose Bowl, the Special Olympics of Southern California, the Los Angeles Sports Council, and the First Tee program of Pasadena. His charitable endeavors include leading the creation of the Fred Claire Celebrity Golf Classic benefiting the City of Hope clinical research center, with tournaments raising more than $500 million for cancer research. Proceeds from the sale of his book, Extra Innings: Fred Claire’s Journey to City of Hope and Finding a World Championship Team, also benefit City of Hope.

Faisal Saeed Al MutarFaisal Saeed Al Mutar was raised in Baghdad, his young life marked by the chaos of civil war and the loss of his brother to Al Qaeda, as well as his own brushes with death. Admitted to the United States as a refugee in 2013, Al Mutar has since transformed his harrowing early experiences into a fierce commitment to global change. As the founder of Ideas Beyond Borders, a nonprofit dedicated to sharing, translating, and promoting ideas that foster critical thinking, science and civil rights in the Middle East, Al Mutar has been recognized with the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Obama and the Beacon Award from the Ellis Island Honors Society. He has been featured by outlets including NBC News and The Guardian and currently serves on the leadership council of the World Liberty Congress.