Student Commencement Speaker

SUNY Empire State College invites graduating students to apply to be the student speaker at their respective commencement ceremony. It is an honor to be selected to present the student commencement address - to convey a message of inspiration and encouragement, share common experiences and insights, and inspire your fellow graduates.  The selected speaker will add a student’s voice to address their peers, as well as college faculty and staff, honored guests and families during the ceremony.

The comments will reflect on their experience at SUNY Empire State College.


Graduating students interested in delivering the Commencement speeches must meet criteria to apply as a student speaker. The student must:

  • Eligible for the 2020 commencement ceremony
  • Is in good academic standing
  • Completed nomination/application
  • Articulate and capable public speaker
  • Demonstrated leadership skills/abilities

Submission Process

Eligible and interested students are required to submit an online application and a link to a short video (max. 3 min.) with an introduction of themselves and their initial comments for the selection committee to review. Students will be vetted to ensure that they meet the eligibility requirements.

The deadline to submit nominations/applications is Tuesday, February 25, 2020.

Speech Guidelines

Your primary purpose is to deliver a "Commencement Speech" that honors the occasion, inspires, congratulates, and leaves behind a message.  As a commencement speaker for the Empire State College ceremony, you will have three minutes to memorialize the occasion.

Sometimes people have found it easier to start writing a speech when they can fill in the sentence:  "The purpose of my speech is ..." or "What I want the audience to take away with them is..."

Selection Process

The speakers will be selected by a committee through an electronic application process. The Selection Committee will review applications, videos and recommendations and select the finalists.

The committee will seek a diverse representation of SUNY Empire State College students and consider the following when making their speaker selection:

  • Clarity of ideas
  • Appeal to a broad audience
  • Quality of video sample content
  • Speaker’s delivery in the video sample - well prepared, engaging, etc…

Selected speaker(s) and applicants will be notified by the Office of Student Life.

More Information

For more information see the Frequently Asked Questions.