Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson. First-generation daughter of America, raised partly in Iran; veteran reporter in print, on air, and online; courageous chronicler of wars and revolutions. Undeterred by civil and uncivil unrest, gender discrimination, even hostile explosives and enemy fire, you have illuminated some of the most momentous stories from the world’s most dangerous venues, offering insightful, nuanced, sometimes heart-rending accounts to audiences around the world. You have pursued stories portraying the lives of real people caught in the shifting sands of unfolding Middle Eastern history—Afghan women taking their own lives, a widower in Libya unable to find a single photo of his wife in the ruins, an American soldier making the ultimate sacrifice. Your audio byline, “Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News,” has earned renown both for the value of the story that precedes it and for the turbulent locale that follows. Colby is proud to add your name to those distinguished journalists who have upheld the ideals of fearlessness and freedom for which we revere Elijah Parish Lovejoy.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. The hood we present to you and this diploma, which I place in your hand, are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.
Conferred October 16, 2011