Commencement Speaker 2021



Jamie Valvano to Speak at Saint Mary's School's Commencement Exercises for 179th year

All-girls college preparatory high school welcomes cancer advocate, motivational speaker, and daughter of the late Jim Valvano as its guest speaker

Raleigh, N.C., March 23, 2021 – Saint Mary’s School is pleased to announce Jamie Valvano as its keynote speaker for the institution's 2021 commencement exercises to conclude its 179th year. Ms. Valvano accepted the invitation from Head of School Brendan O'Shea and will address the class of 2021 during its on-campus, socially-distanced graduation ceremony to be held in the school’s historic oak Grove in downtown Raleigh, Sunday, May 23, at 10:30 a.m.

An inspiring and relatable speaker, Ms. Valvano is the middle daughter of legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano. She has witnessed amazing victory and heartbreaking tragedy, including her personal battle with breast cancer. As a cancer survivor, Jamie continues to share private and personal insights to a variety of audiences in her role as a public speaker and uses her voice as a cancer advocate, teacher, and writer. She also often shares lessons through her late father's life story.

"We are delighted to welcome Jamie Valvano to Saint Mary's to speak to the graduating class of 2021 during our on-campus commencement ceremony to close our 179th year," said Brendan J. O'Shea, head of school. " Among Jamie’s goals is to 'push others to embrace their personal vision.' She has shared incredible life lessons, and I am confident she will have a powerful message for our graduates and the Saint Mary's community."

A graduate of North Carolina State University, Ms. Valvano worked for The V Foundation for Cancer Research in its formative years and helped to establish the organization, which has awarded over $225 million to cancer facilities across the nation since its inception. Ms. Valvano currently resides in Apex, North Carolina, with her two sons.

Saint Mary's School will livestream its graduation ceremony, in addition to welcoming parents and siblings of Saint Mary's graduates during a socially-distanced event. To learn more about Ms. Valvano, please visit