Danni Washington, a correspondent on the nationally syndicated CBS series “Mission Unstoppable,” and founder of the nonprofit Big Blue & You, has made it her personal and professional mission to inspire the next generation to connect with the natural world. On May 9, Washington will get to share her passion face-to-face with roughly 200 Unity College Flagship and Distance Education graduates — the largest graduating class in the College’s history — as she delivers the Spring Commencement address and receives an honorary doctorate of Sustainability Science.
“We here at Unity College are proud to announce that Ms. Washington will be speaking at our May Commencement,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “We have a history of drawing in some of the most well-known environmental advocates in the world, including Oscar-winner Jimmy Chin, TV host and biologist Jeff Corwin, and Maine’s own Travis Mills. Ms. Washington is certainly right there with all of them, and she has been on our radar for quite some time. Her ethos and ability to connect with young people interested in environmental science and storytelling is unparalleled, and aligns so well with our mission. Here at Unity College, we have a robust Marine Biology program, and a lot of our students know Ms. Washington from ‘Mission Unstoppable’ and ‘Xploration Nature Knows Best.’ So needless to say, there’s a lot of excitement among our graduates about the guidance and wisdom she can offer them.”
“It’s an honor to be invited to Unity College, America’s Environmental College, to speak with the Class of 2020,” said Washington. “These graduates are going to be the ones who inherit our planet, and the graduates of Unity College are going to be the ones who get involved and make sure they have a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions about the environment. They’re energetic, they’re passionate, they’re creative, and I hope that I can play a part in motivating them all as they go on to a career or graduate school and really make a difference.”
Washington has made history as the first woman of color in the United States to host her own science television series, and she has spent the last decade of her life finding creative ways to convert her passion for the ocean and science in exciting, high-profile ways. A Miami native with Jamaican roots, Washington has dreamed of studying oceans since she was 6 years old.
In 2008, Washington graduated from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science/Biology. At age 21, along with her mother, Michelle Swaby-Smith, she co-founded the Big Blue & You, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring and educating youth about marine conservation through the arts and media. She also served for four years as a naturalist at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center where she helped educate thousands of South Florida children about local marine ecosystems.
“While Ms. Washington’s background is in the sciences, she also has an appreciation for the arts and media, which I think will really connect with our graduates,” said Unity College Chief Learning Officer Dr. Erika Latty. “She approaches all of her endeavors through the lens of sustainability, and I think that will show the Class of 2020 all of the things that you can do with a degree from America’s Environmental College. I hope that her words encourage our graduates to inspire future generations of environmental leaders, just as Ms. Washington has done throughout her career.”
Commencement exercises begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 9. The ceremony is open to Unity College graduates and their guests. The ceremony and speeches will be streamed on the Unity College Facebook page.