Meet Jnae Thompson, student speaker for 2023 Winter Commencement

This year’s UW–Madison student commencement speaker, Jnae Thompson, is an L&S student majoring in African American Studies with a certificate in Gender & Women’s Studies!

“Thompson believes her own story might help others. She entered UW–Madison as a biochemistry major, determined to become an orthopedic surgeon. “I had my entire four-year plan all worked out,” she says.

But after two years, the passion had ebbed for her career choice, and she was struggling to remain engaged in her coursework. She felt called to a different future, one as a community organizer. Her participation in the George Floyd-related protests of 2020 and her work as an organizer for the Madison-based social justice organization Freedom, Inc., contributed to this awakening. She switched her major to African American studies, with a certificate in gender and women’s studies. It was not an easy transition — she had to reimagine her future and herself. But she looks back with no regrets.”


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