OAKLAND, Calif.--Mills College will celebrate its 126th Commencement on Saturday, May 17, 2014, with an address given by Daljit Bains. Bains graduated from Mills College in 1999 with a biology degree and a desire to make a difference. Over the course of a career that has gone from big pharma and biotech to her own fair trade import business to a position as chief compliance officer at the Peace Corps, she is now helping make a difference in more than 65 countries.
"I'm proud to say that the multidisciplinary approach at Mills prepared me for an exciting career," said Bains. "I was fortunate to have easy access to so many other departments outside the scope of my major. Be it the art exhibitions, a meditation class, or discussions with other students outside of my field of study, I was able to learn from my fellow students about issues that ranged from race and sexuality to women's studies to early childhood education to art to chemistry and physics. I was enriched by all that I was around, and my natural tendency toward curiosity was fully satisfied."
| Daljit Bains
Bains's CV maps a career that spans science, small business consulting, and international fair trade. During her time with Genentech Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, Bains managed compliance requirements and oversaw the launch of three new drug products, as well as leading inter-department teams in preparation for audits and inspections. She also coordinated and participated in many Food and Drug Administration and international agency audits.
She later launched Kaur Textiles, a business specializing in fair trade textiles, housewares, and accessories from India. The company provides a living wage to hundreds of weavers in the handicraft and handloom sector, as well as providing artisans with guidance on quality standards and marketing to North American consumers.
In 2010, she took over the compliance reigns at the Peace Corps, charged with helping the federal agency maintain strict accountability as it works to tackle some of the world's most important challenges, from food security to youth empowerment to fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs. Bains has worked especially closely with the safety and medical departments to ensure volunteers have the opportunity for a safe and healthy experience.
Peace Corps volunteers travel to the farthest corners of the world where they work toward sustainable change while gaining hands-on experience and developing the skills employers are looking for now more than ever. Volunteers who serve with the Peace Corps return home with a global perspective as well as cross-cultural, leadership, community development and language skills. They give back to their communities here at home and enrich the lives of those around them, helping to strengthen international ties and increase our country's global competitiveness. Over its 53-year history, almost a quarter million Peace Corps volunteers have served in 139 countries around the world.
All along her own journey, Bains credited her time at Mills with shaping the way she approaches life and career, including how she analyzes situations in her everyday work. "It's that sense of intellectual curiosity and relationship building that comes with the wide breadth of education I received at Mills," she said. "So much of my work is based on building and maintaining relationships."
"We are fortunate to have Daljit Bains as this year's commencement speaker," said Mills College President Alecia DeCoudreaux. "Her road to leadership and commitment to social justice will inspire graduates who are about to embark on their own great journeys."
As for advice for today's graduates, Bains, who describes herself as "an activist at heart," offered some key messages: explore the world around you as much possible, be generous, embrace your mistakes, and practice self-care.
"Be of service in this world. We have so much," she said.
The 126th Commencement at Mills College will begin at 9:45 am, Saturday, May 17, 2014, on Holmgren Meadow with a graduating class that includes 289 undergraduate women and 231 graduate women and men, as well as students receiving certificates and credentials in a variety of fields. The event is open to the public.