Actor, comedian, M.D. Ken Jeong to give Convocation address
By Tom Fleischman, Cornell Chronicle
Actor and comedian Ken Jeong, who rose to fame with the “Hangover” film series and “The Masked Singer” – and who’s a licensed physician and anti-racism advocate – will give the keynote address at Senior Convocation, Thursday, May 25, at 1 p.m. in Barton Hall.
The student-run 2023 Convocation Committee announced the selection April 26.
“Ken Jeong was a highly coveted speaker and, from the beginning, our committee was thrilled about the prospect of having him join the Class of ’23,” said Yasmin Ballew ’23, chair of the committee. “Of the many names we discussed, he stood out for his passion, commitment to advocacy and, of course, his humor.”
Senior Convocation is a celebration of the accomplishments of the undergraduate graduating class. The event is geared toward December 2022 and May 2023 undergraduate graduates; graduate and professional students and current Cornell community members will be invited as space allows.
“For many, Convocation signifies accomplishment,” Ballew said. “As a student-run event, it is a time to celebrate all that our class has accomplished on the journey to graduation, to reflect on our trials and successes, and to consider how we can continue ‘to do the greatest good.’”
A pre-Convocation event is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. in Barton Hall, for seniors to celebrate with light snacks, photo booths and giveaways. Convocation will include three student organization performances; details are still being finalized.
A post-Convocation event, “Forever Cornell: Alumni Affairs Post-Convocation Celebration,” will be held from 3-5 p.m. in Willard Straight Hall, with more celebrations, food and giveaways.
The ticket release schedule will be announced at a later date.
The 53-year-old Jeong, who received his M.D. from the University of North Carolina in 1995, completed his internal medicine residency in New Orleans, while developing his comedy. He won the Big Easy Laff Off in 1995; the competition, which was judged by former NBC president Brandon Tartikoff and Improv founder Budd Friedman, turned out to be his big break.
After making his film debut as the doctor in 2007’s “Knocked Up,” Jeong had his first major role in 2008, opposite Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott, as the villain in David Wain’s “Role Models.” He also appeared in “Pineapple Express” and “Step Brothers” that same year.
His breakout came in 2009, when he appeared as Asian mobster Leslie Chow in “The Hangover,” starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms (Cornell’s 2014 Convocation speaker) and Zach Galifianakis. The role earned Jeong an MTV Movie Award in 2010. He also appeared as Ben Chang in the NBC sitcom “Community” from 2009-15.
Jeong can currently be seen as a panelist on Fox’s “The Masked Singer,” which received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Competition Program in 2020. He is also the host and executive producer of Fox’s “I Can See Your Voice.”
In addition to acting, Jeong volunteers with Stand Up 2 Cancer, and has been outspoken regarding racism and hate crimes against the Asian American-Pacific Islander community. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Tran Ho Jeong (also a licensed physician) and twin daughters.
Past Convocation speakers include former U.S. attorney general Janet Reno ’60; former President Bill Clinton; activist Martin Luther King III; poet Maya Angelou; President Joe Biden; science educator and entertainer Bill Nye ’77; filmmaker and producer Ava DuVernay; author and activist Roxane Gay; and actress Constance Wu.
Commencement will take place May 27, and will be split into two ceremonies, at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.; visit the Commencement website for more information.