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NewsMay 20, 2023

TODAY: Adventurer Erik Weihenmayer '93 speaking at 2023 Commencement

In live-streamed ceremony, alumnus who is blind to share experiences from a ‘No Barriers’ life  

Erik Weihenmayer ’93 climes Marmolada in the Italian Dolomites in 2015. Photo: Manrico Dell’Agnola

Celebrated adventurer, internationally recognized speaker and Lesley alumnus Erik Weihenmayer is Lesley’s 2023 Commencement speaker. 

Click here to see the morning ceremony. Undergraduates and Threshold Program students will be honored during an afternoon ceremony, which can be seen by clicking here.

Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 20, at the Leader Bank Pavilion, 290 Northern Ave., Boston. Find more information on our Commencement hub.

In 2001, Weihenmayer, who lost his sight as a teenager, became the only blind person in history to summit Mount Everest. Seven years later, he reached the top of Carstensz Pyramid, completing his quest to climb the Seven Summits — the tallest peak on each of the seven continents.  

His 277-mile journey down the formidable white water of the Colorado River with blinded Navy veteran Lonnie Bedwell is the subject of a documentary and Weihenmayer’s latest book, “No Barriers: A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon.” 

Erik Weihenmayer kayaking on the Apurimac River.
Erik Weihenmayer kayaks on the Apurímac River. Photo: Rob Raker.

A former middle school teacher, Weihenmayer received his master’s degree in Education from Lesley University in 1993. While no longer a classroom teacher, he continues to educate and empower people through regular speaking engagements across and through No Barriers USA, a nonprofit he cofounded. No Barriers works primarily with veterans, caregivers and young people experiencing challenges, combining challenging outdoor experiences with opportunities for growth and healing. 

“We are so honored to have Erik speak to our graduates,” says President Janet L. Steinmayer. “His devotion to pushing boundaries and helping others to do the same is exactly what Lesley University is about." 

Weihenmayer will speak at Lesley’s 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Commencement celebrations.