Angelo State University alumna and award-winning author Norma Yvonne Jennings will deliver the commencement address during ASU’s spring graduation ceremonies on Saturday, May 12, in the Junell Center/Stephens Arena, 2235 S. Jackson St.
Jennings will address graduates of the College of Education, Archer College of Health and Human Services, and College of Graduate Studies and Research in those academic fields during a 10 a.m. ceremony. She will speak to graduates of the College of Arts and Humanities, College of Business, College of Science and Engineering, and College of Graduate Studies and Research in those academic fields in a 2 p.m. ceremony. About 1,000 ASU graduates are scheduled to walk the stage during the two graduation exercises.
A 1982 Angelo State graduate, Jennings built a successful career as a corporate executive before returning to her first love of writing and fulfilling her dream of becoming a published author.
A native of Jamaica, Jennings first arrived in San Angelo through a family job transfer that brought her from New York to West Texas. She graduated summa cum laude from ASU with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and then completed the Management Development Program at Harvard Graduate School and began to fashion her career in corporate America.
Starting out as a human resources recruiter, Jennings worked in the hotel, education, banking and health care industries, and she has specialized training and experience in recruitment, employee relations, compensation, employee benefits, information technology, and labor and immigration laws. She held various leadership positions at different companies, including rising as high as vice president, director of compensation and human resources director, before leaving to pursue her writing.
Jennings penned her first novel in 2012. It is titled “Daughter of the Caribbean” and is based mainly on her own life, including growing up in Jamaica on her grandmother’s sprawling Twickenham sugarcane plantation. Her second novel, “Passenger from Greece,” delves into the rising tide of drug trafficking in the Caribbean. It was published in 2015 and won a “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading Book Award” from The Authors Show Radio. It was also a finalist in the Best USA Book Awards and has generated interest from movie producers. Her forthcoming third book, “Marooned,” is a provoking and brutal historical fiction novel about colonialism in Jamaica.
Also a former international flight attendant and a certified interior designer, Jennings has three grown children. Though she enjoys dual citizenship in Jamaica and the U.S., she mainly stays close to her beloved Twickenham estate that she and her siblings have now inherited from their grandmother.