Entrepreneur Jessica Jackley, co-founder of an innovative peer-to-peer micro-lending website, will be the UCLA College of Letters and Science's 2012 commencement speaker. More than 6,000 students are expected to receive bachelor's degrees at the ceremony, which will be held on Friday, June 15, at Drake Stadium on the UCLA campus.
"Jessica Jackley's seminal work using social media to create social change makes her an ideal selection to reinforce this year's commencement theme of leadership that is transformative," said Judith L. Smith, UCLA dean and vice provost of undergraduate education.
In 2005, Jackley co-founded the micro-lending site Kiva, which allows Internet users to lend as little as $25 to individual entrepreneurs, providing affordable capital to help them start or expand a small business. Kiva has facilitated nearly $300 million in loans among individuals in more than 200 countries.
She also co-founded and was CEO of ProFounder, which provides new ways for small business entrepreneurs in the U.S. to access startup capital through "crowd funding"— the pooling of money and other resources together on the Internet — and community involvement. She is a venture partner with Collaborative Fund, which focuses on investing in creative entrepreneurs who want to change the world through emerging technologies.
Jackley has been recognized widely for her leadership and accomplishments. She is the recipient of the 2012 Symons Innovator Award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology and was honored with the 2011 "No Boundaries" Innovation Award from The Economist magazine. She was a finalist for Time magazine's 2009 ranking of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Jackley earned an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and political science from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. She is currently a visiting practitioner at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.
Smith noted that this year marks the UCLA College of Letters and Science's 88th commencement. In tribute, graduating seniors who are recipients of the 2012 Chancellor's Service Award will be honored and will provide a colorful addition to the commencement processional by carrying 88 blue and gold banners. The Service Award honors seniors who have made significant contributions to UCLA and/or the surrounding Los Angeles community through a sustained record of outstanding leadership and service.
UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 337 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Six alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.