Student Commencement Speakers

Interested in applying to be a 2016 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 for an overview, timeline, and criteria.


Monday, April 4th: Applications Due

Online Commencement Speaker Application

  • Applications must include an outline or complete script of your speech to be considered. Speeches should be no longer than 4 minutes when delivered. 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.
  • All applicants must meet a minimum G.P.A. requirement of 2.5 for undergraduate students 3.0 for graduate students.
  • All applicants must be in good judicial standing.

Monday, April 11th : Finalists Notified & Invited to Sign Up for Auditions

  • All applications will be reviewed by members of the Selection Committee, who will choose up to six finalists to audition.: Speaker Auditions (Undergraduate: 11:30am - 1:00pm  |  Graduate: 2:30pm - 4:00pm)
  • Auditions consist of delivering your speech to the selection committee, as well as short interview questions.
  • Audition time slots are 15 minutes long.
  • 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? Does she or he 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 she or he have stage presence in a venue as large as Key Arena? Does she or he connect with the audience?
  • The final selection will be made after all finalists have auditioned.

Friday, May 3rd: Finalists Notified

  • The selected speakers will begin working with a faculty/staff coach to refine the speech with notes from the Selection Committee and polish delivery.
  • The selected speaker will be asked to submit biographical information to be used in press releases and the introduction at the Commencement Ceremony.

Tuesday, May 11th: Speakers Announced at Red Night Out

  • The speakers will be announced and introduced at Red Night Out on May 11 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.

Tuesday, June 2nd: Final Presentation of Speech to Selection Committee

  • 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.

Sunday, June 12th: Commencement Ceremonies

Undergraduate Students:

  • Ceremony begins at 9:30am.
  • Speaker should plan to arrive no later than 7:30am for final sound check.

Graduate Students:

  • Ceremony begins at 3:00pm.
  • Speaker should plan to arrive no later than 1:30pm for final sound check.
  • For more information on Commencement 2015, please visit the general Commencement website.