Obama aide Stephanie Valencia to speak at Merced College commencement

Merced College said Stephanie Valencia, associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement, will deliver the keynote address during its 48th annual commencement exercises on May 27 in Stadium '76/Don Odishoo Field.

Commencement begins at 7:30 p.m. Valencia will speak on "Living Your Dreams."

"Our communities and students are extremely diverse, and we look forward to having a speaker who is versed in so many areas that affect our students," said Anne Newins, vice president of Student Personnel.

A member of the Obama administration, Valencia is responsible for outreach to the Hispanic community, immigration and housing. She also works on Puerto Rico issues.

Before joining the administration, Valencia served on the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team and was deputy Hispanic vote director on the Obama campaign. She also served as press secretary to U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), serving as his spokeswoman and media adviser.

Valencia has also worked in the House of Representatives as special assistant and press secretary to Connecticut congressman John B. Larson, vice chair of the Democratic Caucus, and she served as press secretary for Congresswoman Linda Sanchez.

Valencia started her career as a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellow and is a graduate of Boston College. She is originally from Las Cruces, N.M.