Jimmy Chin — a National Geographic photographer, North Face athlete, and director of “Meru” — will be the Class of 2017 Commencement speaker at Unity College.
Chin’s keynote address will take place as part of commencement exercises on Saturday, May 13. His selection as the Commencement honoree was revealed to students today at a live on-campus event featuring a multimedia presentation with a video message from Chin to the Class of 2017.
Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said Chin will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Sustainability Science before addressing approximately 150 candidates for graduation from America’s Environmental College.
“Mr. Chin has inspired a generation to get outside, travel, and enjoy our amazing world,” Khoury said. “Research shows that people who get out in nature are more concerned about the environment. For that, he has earned our respect, gratitude, and this honorary degree.”
Chin was selected after an intensive process led by a committee of students, staff, and faculty. The committee chose Chin from more than 50 nominations based on criteria in alignment with the mission of Unity College.
“You don’t have to trade your passion for a job,” Khoury said. “Living your passion can be your career. That’s the genius of Jimmy Chin. He’s reached incredible heights — literally and professionally — by holding fast to his ideals and creating a role for himself in changing corporate, media, and environmental landscapes.”
Chin’s career combines talent as a photographer, filmmaker, professional climber, and skier. A 14-year veteran of The North Face Athlete Team, he is one of the most sought-after and recognized adventure sports photographers and filmmakers working today. He has climbed notable first ascents in the Karakoram, traversed the Chang Tang Plateau in Tibet on foot, and skied first descents in the Himalayas. He is one of the only people to ski Mount Everest from the summit, and climbed the much coveted first ascent of the Shark’s Fin on Meru.
Chin’s photography has graced the cover of National Geographic Magazine and garnered awards from Photo District News, Communication Arts, American Society of Magazine Editors and the Lowell Thomas Journalism Awards.
As a director and cinematographer, Chin has directed documentaries, TV and commercial projects for The North Face, National Geographic, Apple, Chase, Pirelli, Working Title, and RSA Films. Jimmy’s 2015 documentary, “Meru,” which chronicles the ascent of Mount Meru at the headwaters of the sacred Ganges River in Northern India won the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. “Meru” also made the 2016 Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary.
“Jimmy Chin is a source of inspiration for our graduates; having him as part of their commencement as confident stewards prepared to shape the future means a lot as our students engage lives as global environmental citizens,” Khoury said.
Chin splits his time between New York City and Jackson Hole, Wyo., with his wife, Chai Vasarhelyi; their daughter, Marina; and son James.