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Special Olympics athlete and world-renowned motivational speaker Loretta Claiborne will deliver the address for the 2019 winter commencement at York College, where she also will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

At 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18, about 300 graduates will gather at the Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center’s M&T Field House to hear from Claiborne — a multi-sport Special Olympian who began competing in 1970, according to a news release.

Additionally, she's completed 26 marathons, holds a fourth-degree black belt in karate and has her own Disney movie, "The Loretta Claiborne Story." 

Born with physical and intellectual disabilities in 1953, she could not walk or talk until the age of 4, but despite challenges, including years of bullying, she prevailed — thanks in part to positive impact from the Special Olympics.

Claiborne has met with teachers, international leaders and students — Nelson Mandela, Pope Francis, United Nations leaders and U.S presidents, among others.

York College Associate Professor of Chemistry Jessica Fautch, who received the Presidential Award for Teaching and Mentoring Excellence, will also speak at the commencement. 

She's known for her work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, especially with adaptive learning and technology.

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