Student Commencement Speakers

Interested in applying to be a 2021 Student Commencement Speaker? We will select one graduate and one undergraduate student to speak at each pre-recorded commencement program. Share your experience and insights, inspire your fellow graduates, and leave a legacy at Seattle University. To apply, please review the following information about the process and criteria. For information about the ceremonies, other graduation events, apparel, etc, please visit the Commencement Site.

This year’s student commencement speakers will be recorded by a professional videographer during mid-May as a part of a pre-recorded Commencement program. We have developed this selection process to ensure that the selected student is prepared and ready to be successful.

Recording will take place on May 13 and 14 from 12:45-5:45 pm. Selected speakers must be available for at least 2 hours during these windows to allow for coordinating the recording schedule. 

To Apply

Graduate students made submit a completed application by 5 pm PST on May 3. The deadline has passed for undergraduate applicants.

  • Answers to the brief questions on the Student Commencement Speaker Application
  • A 2-3 video of you giving your speech. This does not have to be professionally edited. A video from your phone is fine. The preferred file format is mp 4.


Applications will be considered based on the following criteria by a committee of graduating seniors, faculty, and staff:

  • Time: Speeches should be 2-3 minutes when delivered.
  • Fit for the Occasion: Does it suit the dignity of graduation? Does it relate to our Jesuit values? Does it convey a message that is intriguing, challenging and/or motivational? Is there a balance of personal story and a message intended for the larger audience?
  • Delivery: Is the speaker well prepared? Do they use voice, gestures and words effectively? Is the speech ready, or close to ready, to be presented or will it need significant work?
  • Pre-Screen: The following criteria will be checked in advance of submissions being shared with the full committee:
    • All applicants must graduate during the 2020-2021 academic year.
    • All applicants must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative G.P.A. or higher.
    • Applicants on disciplinary probation will not advance in the process.

Tips for Success

Our hope is to give you the maximum opportunity to be selected. Candidates who have developed their thoughts more fully are generally more successful. Some tips to consider when drafting your remarks:

  • Message: Focus on one key message. A 2-3 minute speech is just enough time to greet the audience, deliver a central message, and close. You’ll be asked to explain your central message on the application.
  • Personal & Inviting: Balance speaking from your own experience and a generally applicable message.
    • Listeners want to know something about you as a person.
    • They also want to feel like a part of what you’re saying.
    • A good example is handling references to a specific college/school. If you mention a program, college, or school in telling your own story that typically feels fine, but a general shout out to all your (insert college/school) friends feels like it leaves others out.
  • Audience: Remember that while your primary audience is fellow graduates, families, friends, staff, and faculty all attend. You’re speaking to many different people and their knowledge of SU.

After Selection

All those who audition will be notified by email. Undergraduate applicants will be notified on May 7. Graduate applicants will be notified on May 11. The selected speaker will be announced shortly thereafter to the SU community. They will then be meet with a faculty/staff coach to review the speech with notes from the selection committee and work with a professional videographer for recording. Recording will take place on May 13 and 14 between 12:45-5:45 pm.