Apply to be Student Speaker

You could be this year's Commencement student speaker

Graduating seniors who have something to say can say it before an audience of thousands of graduates and their families. The tradition of a student speaker is as old as Commencement itself.

To apply you must:

  • Be a graduating senior from the prior December or this coming spring semester
  • Have a successful academic record
  • Be an upstanding member of the campus community

Your speech will be about 3-5 minutes long, or about 500-750 words. If chosen, you’ll get help with editing and rehearsing. You’ll also be invited to sit on stage during the event.

There is only one student speaker at Commencement and you’ll precede the Chancellor’s invited community speaker.

Apply to be a student speaker

A row of seated students look toward the stage

"We live in a day and age when a lot of people settle"

At 2021’s Commencement, Matthew Brown shared his remarkable endeavors over twenty-five years of his life and urged everyone not to settle.

Juvenile detention centers became his second home starting at age 12. At 16, he was arrested, charged as an adult and eventually sent to prison. Released at 20, he had to figure out what to do with his life. He thought his only prospects seemed like construction, factory work or the service industry. And in his 20s, he also was raising three children on his own.

But now, at 37, he’s graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a minor in psychology, and he’s eager to start a career that uses his speaking skills. That could be in the entertainment industry, or as a professional speaker. Regardless, he sees a bright future, and he wants others to know that's possible, too.

Read more about Matthew’s story