Chen Wang, Deseret News
Liz Murray, author of the memoir "From Homeless to Harvard," will deliver the University of Utah's general commencement address on May 2.

SALT LAKE CITY — A best-selling author and motivational speaker will deliver this year's commencement address for the University of Utah.

Liz Murray, author of the memoir “From Homeless to Harvard,” will deliver the university’s general commencement address on May 2.

Murray grew up in the Bronx in the 1980s and ′90s, a daughter of cocaine-addicted parents. By age 15, Murray’s mother had died of HIV, her father left and she was homeless. She lived on the streets but finished high school in New York City in just two years, received a scholarship from the New York Times and graduated from Harvard University in June 2009. She is the recipient of Oprah Winfrey’s first Chutzpah Award.

“I started to grasp the value of the lessons learned while living on the streets,” Murray said. “I knew after overcoming those daily obstacles that next to nothing could hold me down.”

“Liz Murray says that she always imagined her life could be much better,” U. President David Pershing said. “I am glad to welcome Ms. Murray to our campus for what will certainly be an inspiring commencement message for our students: no matter the hurdles, imagine a better life for yourself, for your family, your community — then figure out what you have to do to make it happen.”

General commencement exercises will be held May 2 beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Jon M. Huntsman Center on the U. campus.