Student Commencement Speakers

Interested in applying to be a 2019 Student Commencement Speaker? 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.

Complete the Online Commencement Speaker Application (Thursday, April 11, 2019 by 11:59pm)
Applications must include an outline or complete script of your speech to be considered. Our hope is to give you the maximum opportunity to be selected by fully expressing the thoughts you would deliver at Commencement and to prepare you to be successful in giving your speech if selected for an audition. Candidates who have developed their thoughts more fully are generally more successful.

  • Speeches should be no longer than 4 minutes when delivered.
  • All applicants must be graduating in Spring or Summer quarter 2019.
  • All applicants must meet a minimum G.P.A. requirement (2.5 for undergraduate students or 3.0 for graduate students).
  • All applicants must be in good judicial standing.

Applicants Notified & Finalists Invited to Sign Up for Auditions (Thursday, April 18, 2019)
The selection committee consists of students, faculty and staff members.  They will review all applications and select up to six finalists.  All applicants will be notified if they are selected (or not) to audition and finalists will be sent a link to sign up for a specific audition time.

Auditions (Tuesday, April 23, 2019 & Thursday, April 25, 2019)
Each finalist will sign up for a 15 minute time slot.  See times below.  Auditions consist of delivering your speech to the selection committee, as well as short interview questions.

  • Undergraduate: Tuesday April 23, 2019, 12:30-2:30 pm
  • Graduate: Thursday, April 25, 2019, 3:30 - 5:30 pm

The committee will be seeking speakers that best fit the following criteria:

  • A message that suits 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?
  • A speaker who delivers the speech well: 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?
  • A speaker with presence: Is the speaker engaging? Will they have stage presence in a venue as large as Key Arena? Do they connect with the audience?

Speakers Notified (Thursday, May 2, 2019)
All those who audition will be notified.  Those selected to speak will be paired with a faculty/staff coach to refine the speech with notes from the Selection Committee and polish delivery.  Speakers will also complete a biographical form to be used in press releases and the introduction at the Commencement Ceremony.

Speakers Announced at Red Night Out (Thursday, May 30, 2019)
Speakers will be announced and introduced at Red Night Out on May 30 from 7-9 pm.  Although attendance is not required of the selected student speakers, it is highly encouraged.  This is the first announcement to the SU community of who the student speaker will be.

Tentative Final Presentation of Speech to Selection Committee (Monday, June 3, 2019)
Once selected, we will work with the speaker's schedule to find a time when most selection committee members can attend to hear a final presentation of the speech for final approval. The committee may give final notes on which to work with the coach prior to Commencement. 

Commencement Ceremonies (Sunday, June 16, 2019)
The Undergraduate Ceremony begins at 9:30am.  The speaker should plan to arrive no later than 7:30am for final sound check.  The Graduate Student Ceremony begins at 3:00pm.  The speaker should plan to arrive no later than 1:30pm for final sound check.