The 2018 Commencement Speaker
Carol Zelis Perez ‘75, United States Ambassador to Chile, will deliver Hiram College’s May 12 commencement ceremony keynote address on the topic of change. Since Perez graduated from her alma mater, she has experienced a vibrant, successful and ever-evolving career in foreign service, leadership and diplomacy. Her personal and professional narrative of change aligns perfectly with Hiram College’s repositioning change as the New Liberal Arts.
“We expect our Class of 2018 to be inspired by Carol’s story. Like Carol, we expect these Hiram graduates to embrace and make the most of the exciting changes that await them in their professional and personal lives,” says Hiram President Lori Varlotta, Ph.D.
After Perez graduated from Hiram College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, she attended George Washington University where she received a master’s degree in health care administration. A Garfield Heights native, Perez joined the State Department in 1987. She served her first two overseas tours in Madrid, Spain and Rome, Italy. In 1997 she assumed a series of assignments in Washington including as the Deputy Executive Director in the Executive Secretariat, Office Director in the Secretariat Staff Office, and Deputy Executive Secretary. Perez has served twice as Consul General in Barcelona, Spain from 2001 to 2003 and in Milan, Italy from 2009 to 2011.
Upon returning to Washington in 2011, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs until 2014. Perez then assumed the position of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Human Resources at the Department of State where she was responsible for Human Capital Development programs and policies for 75,000 State Department employees serving in more than 250 locations around the world. In July 2016, she was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Chile.
Through these and her other diplomatic roles, Perez has a compelling story to share with her fellow Terriers. “We’re delighted to welcome Carol back to her alma mater. Carol reflects the best in public service and servant leadership at a time when aspiring public servants and engaged citizens of all types need healthy, smart, and creative role models. She fits the bill wonderfully, and we are so proud to have her as one of our own,” Dr. Varlotta says.
Hiram College’s commencement day activities will begin at 8:30 a.m. with an induction ceremony for students named to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest honor society for the liberal arts and sciences in the United States. The day’s activities continue with the Nursing Pinning Ceremony for graduating nurses at 9:30 a.m., a brunch reception for graduates and their families, the traditional class picture, and 2 p.m. commencement ceremony at Hiram’s Martin Field House.