Make Your Mark and Speak at Graduation

Published: March 05, 2015 | Author: Olyvia Meyer | Read Time: 2 minutes

Valerie Owens at SUU's graduationDr. Seuss, Hilary Clinton, and Chevy Chase share something in common – something more than just fame. Before making their marks on history they were all student speakers at their university commencement ceremonies.

Each year, Southern Utah University carefully selects a student to represent the graduating class during the commencement ceremony, this year it could be you.

With this honor comes the task of finding what words to say. How would you express the feelings of excitement, accomplishment, fear and uncertainty about the unknown ahead? What would you say to your peers, professors, family and friends in the audience with whom you have shared countless memories and experiences? How would you say goodbye?

Josie Beth Archibald, who spoke to the Class of 2003, says she thinks of the words she chose often. “I still have my speech memorized. Life has taken me on a completely different path than I envisioned for myself then – I’m not rich or famous – but I have found happiness.”

Archibald says if she could go back in time and rewrite her speech she would tell her class to embrace the obstacles and changes that inevitably come. “They are suppose to be there,” she says, “Plans and goals are important, but living each moment the best that you can will bring you true happiness.”

Isaac Holyoak, the Class of 2008 speaker, says he would also change a few things about what he said. Holyoak, now communications director for Alliance for a Better Utah, says, “When I addressed my fellow graduates in 2008, I spoke about our position as individuals) within a larger, worldwide community, however; if I were to speak to graduates today, I would urge them to seek goodness, to become truly good. To paraphrase the now popular Sondheim musical: not nice, not bad, but good.”

This May, thousands of Thunderbirds dressed in robe and sash will fill the seats of the Centrum Arena anxiously awaiting the moment when they can switch their cap tassels from right to left, symbolizing their transition from student to graduate. One speaker will be chosen to represent them all. Will it be you?

In order to qualify you must have graduated following the fall 2014 semester or be scheduled to graduate spring 2015 or summer 2015 semesters and be able to attend the commencement ceremony on Friday, May 1, 2015. The selected student will be given a $300 stipend as thanks for his/her time and efforts.

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