Thursday, June 20, 2024

Logo for the University of Maryland Right Now Site
Skip to Content

A resource for media highlighting UMD experts, cutting-edge research and innovation, rankings, and breaking campus news

All News Releases

UMD Alumna and Olympic Gymnast Dominique Dawes to Address University of Maryland’s 2020 Winter Graduates

Virtual campus-wide ceremony to be held on Dec. 20


Katie Lawson , 301-405-4622


COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland announced today that Dominique Dawes ‘02, three-time Olympian and Olympic Gymnastic Gold Medalist, will deliver the university’s commencement address on Dec. 20, 2020. Dawes will address thousands of graduates, family and friends during the virtual ceremony.

“Dominique Dawes is a shining example of the impact Terps have across the world and in our state,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. “We are delighted to welcome her back to her alma mater to share her story and help commemorate this special occasion for our graduates.”

The Maryland native and UMD alumna recently shared her enthusiasm to offer remarks to the graduates:

“I am incredibly honored to speak at the University of Maryland’s commencement ceremony,” said Dawes. “The perseverance of the entire Terp community through this enduring pandemic is inspiring, and I hope to encourage students and faculty as they celebrate this milestone and prepare for what is next.”

Dawes, a dedicated gymnast since the age of 6, saw success early in her career. In her first appearance in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, she earned a bronze medal with Team USA. She was a member of the Gold Medal Olympic Team known as the “Magnificent Seven” in 1996. That same year, she also became the first African-American woman to win an individual event medal (bronze) for her floor routine. She went on to earn an additional bronze team medal competing in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. These trailblazing performances earned her a permanent place in the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame.

While advancing her career on the mat, she was enrolled at UMD pursuing a degree in communications, which she earned in 2002 after taking time off to compete. She used that degree and her life experiences to become an accomplished motivational speaker focusing on leadership, teamwork, health, fitness and wellness. Dawes also spent time covering the Olympic games as an analyst and broadcaster for Yahoo Sports and Fox Sports.

In addition to serving as President of the Women’s Sports Foundation, in 2010 Dominique was named Co-Chair of the President’s Council on Sports Fitness and Nutrition by President Barack Obama. This role enabled her to work closely with First Lady Michelle Obama and the Let’s Move! initiative.

Currently, Dawes is the owner and founder of the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics & Ninja Academy. The gym recently opened in Montgomery County, Md. with a mission to inspire today’s generation of gymnasts in a safe, supportive and empowering environment.

Dawes will be joined by President Pines and other special guests to honor Maryland’s 2020 winter class. The virtual ceremony will also feature photos and video of graduating seniors celebrating this milestone. More details about the campus-wide ceremony, including important deadlines for graduates are available on


About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 297 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit



Colleges and Schools:

Division of Student Affairs Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Media Inquiries