Graduate Student Commencement Speaker Guidelines
As the Graduate Student Commencement Speaker you have the honor to address your fellow classmates and the commencement audience while representing the graduating class. Being the student speaker at the event gives you an opportunity to thank friends, family and members of the university community who have supported you, to reflect upon your past experience at BSU, and to convey a message of inspiration and encouragement on how you can make a difference in the future. You will be provided a commencement tutor to help you finalize your commencement speech. You will also be a part of the platform party and be seated on the stage.
Qualifications and Eligibility
Students must be in good academic standing by achieving a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
Students that have graduated in August or January or have applied to graduate in May 2013 are
eligible to serve as the 2013 Graduate Student Commencement Speaker
Deadlines and Important Dates
Application to Graduate – February 1
Graduate Student Commencement Speaker application with draft must be submitted by March 23
Applications will be reviewed by March 30. Graduation requirements will be reviewed and cleared by the graduation coordinator to be certain all requirements are met
Notification to finalists by April 6
Presentation and audition of speeches by April 13
Selection and notification to Student Speaker and Alternate Student Speaker by April 27
College of Graduate Studies staff members
Graduate Professional Student Association President
General Guidelines for Speech Writing
The message from a member of the graduating class traditionally falls before diplomas are presented. The following
information is provided as guidance as you develop your speech. It is suggested that you review online copies of recent speeches written by former student speakers to evaluate how the following guidelines were used to develop effective speeches.
- Consider your audience: classmates, faculty, staff, family, and friends. Your speech should acknowledge those whose sacrifices and encouragement have helped you achieve your goals.
- Ask yourself - what do I want my audience, particularly my classmates, to feel at the end of my speech? Motivated? Inspired? Encouraged?
- Ask yourself - what do I NOT want my audience to feel at the end of my speech? Bored? Relieved? (Imagine yourself sitting in the audience listening to your speech. What do you feel? If it's bored or relieved, go back to the drawing board. Revise and edit.)
- Use personal anecdotes and appropriate humor to motivate, encourage and inspire your audience.
- Remind your audience of the joyous event they are celebrating - Commencement!
- Remember that you are speaking to/for/with your classmates.
- Consider using any one of the following suggestions to develop an inspirational thread to weave throughout your speech: overcoming of a challenge-personal or academic; achieving a goal; leading by example; making a difference;
and/or using shared experiences as a springboard for future success
- Remember-use personal experiences only as an inspiration to your classmates. The spotlight may seem to be on you, but your job is to use your experience and refocus its beam on your classmates and, your shared celebration of having achieved your shared goal--commencement. An effective commencement speech reflects the sentiments of your classmates through your shared experiences.
- Avoid clichés. Make appropriate use of metaphor.
- Be original.
- Be brief. Be sincere. According to Whitman and Foster, a commencement speech generally addresses the following three topics:
- It offers congratulations
- It reviews accomplishments, and importantly,
- It issues a challenge. The word commencement denotes a beginning....What inspirational thoughts can you share which will assure that you and your classmates are prepared and ready to take up life's challenges as you take your place in society?
Click here for the Graduate Student Commencement Speaker Application Form.
Any questions or concerns, please contact Patricia Hennessey, Director of Graduate College Services, College of Graduate Studies, Maxwell Library, room 021, Bridgewater State University 508.531.1795.
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