Student Commencement Speaker Yaz Simpson is a psychology and cinema major from Chicago. Simpson is a spoken word artist and screenwriter with a passion for film, musicals, and storytelling.

An active member of the Denison community, Simpson is a member of the Black Student Union and an intramural volleyball player. She has served as a three-year community advisor, and a screen projectionist for the Denison Film Society, and has received a 1831 Senior Leadership Award, dedicated to senior who have shown passion, and immense effort toward improving student life throughout their tenure on The Hill.

During her sophomore year, Simpson served as the co-founder, facilitator, stage manager, writer, and performer in HERE US – a theater production that features original work written, workshopped, and performed by Denison artists of color. For the past three years, HERE US has served as a space to highlight the diversity present within the complex POC identity, and it will continue to do so as a registered class in the Fall of 2023. “HERE US is more than a live performance.” Simpson says, “It’s a platform for people who look like me to finally be heard.”

Simpson has had held summer internships with Rush University Medical Center, Elephant Pictures, and Vertical Entertainment. After Denison, she will be finalizing her screenplay and moving to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming a showrunner for a television series. “I’m a firm believer in manifestation,” Simpson says. “One day I will write a hit show, and it will be about people who look like me. I’m going to make it. Watch out world, Yaz is coming through.”

April 11, 2023