College seniors are busy finishing up term papers and preparing to sit for final exams. They’re also ordering caps and gowns, and meeting with their advisors to ensure that they’ll be ready to graduate this spring. Important to many students is the ceremony itself — if students are lucky, they’ll get to hear a famous person extol the virtues of hard work and giving back to the community, something that grads at the following six universities will enjoy at their Commencement exercises.
Class of 2013 Speakers
1. Utah State University — On May 4, Utah State graduates will hear Nike Brand President Charlie Denson’s speech at the Logan’s school 126th Commencement. Denson, himself a USU grad, has been with Nike since graduating in 1979. Denson has overseen the company’s expansion into more than 190 global markets, with especially important growth realized in Brazil, India and China.
2. Washington University in Saint Louis — Newark, N.J., mayor Corey Booker is a political rising star, an individual who has helped move the Garden State’s largest city forward. Booker, a Rhodes Scholar and Yale graduate, has been credited with bringing more than $1 billion in economic development to his city and for expanding affordable housing. New parks and recreational areas have also been developed. Booker’s political aspirations include U.S. senator with some giving the mayor the nod to succeed President Obama in 2016.
3. Misericordia University — Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Misericordia University in Dallas, Penn., has landed journalist and author Carl Bernstein as its Commencement speaker on May 18. Bernstein is an investigative journalist, one who along with Bob Woodward broke the Watergate scandal. Later, he co-authored with Woodward “All the President’s Men,” a non-fiction book about Watergate. He followed up that book with two more books co-authored with Woodward and personally authored books about John Paul II and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
4. Marquette University — Entertainer, comedian, author and activist Bill Cosby is scheduled to address Marquette graduates on May 19. Cosby whose notable works included “The Bill Cosby Show,” “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” and “The Cosby Show,” has also produced comedic and musical albums. Cosby has appeared in several made-for-TV and Hollywood production movies. In recent years he has been actively advocating for African American families.
5. Wake Forest University — Wake Forest grads will be turning their tassels on May 20. They will also hear a speech from “Washington Week” managing editor and “PBS NewsHour” senior correspondent Gwen Ifill. Ifill has covered six Presidential campaigns and has moderated a pair of vice presidential debates. The New York City native is active with the Committee to Protect Journalists and the News Literacy Project. Ifill is also a fellow with the American Academy of Sciences.
6. Harvard University — Entrepreneur and talk show host Oprah Winfrey will speak to Harvard grads on May 30, the 362nd Commencement. Winfrey’s influence goes beyond her media network and includes numerous philanthropic endeavors such as a scholarship program, a leadership academy for girls in South Africa and for setting up women’s shelters. Winfrey also was behind a successful 1993 effort to establish a national database of convicted child abusers.
For students selected to give speeches, there are a few things they’ll want to keep in mind. First, know your audience and direct your speech personally, not generally. Second, make two or three points and stay focused, avoiding cliches and using quotes as needed. Lastly, keep it brief — long winded speeches are boring — sprinkle your speech with humor and know when you are done.