Highlighting their college careers and future aspirations, 15 students will speak at 15 Binghamton University undergraduate commencement ceremonies this weekend.
To be considered to be a student speaker, a student must submit an application to their respective school. According to Elisabeth Faughnan, director of special events and commencement, most students are interviewed by their schools, but some schools choose to conduct a blind vote. There are also honorary degree recipients that speak during commencement ceremonies. These recipients, who can be nominated by anyone, must be approved by SUNY to receive their degree.
“Commencement is a huge group effort between myself and a wonderful team of about 46 people all across campus,” Faughnan wrote in an email. “We meet monthly in preparation for commencement, and this group includes members from each school, Physical Facilities, [the] Events Center, [the] Anderson Center, [Binghamton’s New York State University Police], Parking, Student Records, Dining Services, [the] Educational Communications [Center], Communications and Marketing, [Services for Students with Disabilities] and more.”
Faughnan wrote that student speeches are mandatorily reviewed, but rarely edited.
Jessica Alzona, a senior majoring in nursing, will be speaking at the Decker School of Nursing ceremony and wrote in an email that she hopes her speech will prompt students to reflect on how the Decker School of Nursing influenced them.
“My speech surrounds the question of, ‘Why nursing?’” Alzona wrote. “I hope my speech evokes emotion and thought, inspiring my fellow classmates to reminisce and really think about why they chose to become nurses.”
According to Alzona, she has gone to the Speaking Center for help while practicing and writing her speech.
“Student interns gave me feedback and advice on how to deliver a better speech utilizing eye contact and tones of voice,” Alzona wrote.
Alzona is not the only student speaker seeking additional help while preparing to talk at commencement. Tiffany Dun, a senior majoring in psychology and one of the three student speakers in Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, also practiced with the Speaking Center and said she hopes her speech, which discusses her transfer from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York to BU, her original move from Australia and her experiences playing tennis for BU, gives students a different point of view on college.
“I think I have a unique perspective on Binghamton that I would like to share,” Dun wrote in an email. “While a lot of people may live relatively [close by] or in neighboring states, I spent my four years at a college on the other side of the world. While I’ve only been at Binghamton for two years, I have met a lot of people who have influenced me in a positive way — so this is sort of a way that I can say thanks and reflect upon what I’ve learned.”
Others, such as Julie Kunnumpurath, a senior majoring in computer science and the speaker for the Watson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, are keeping their speech under wraps. Kunnumpurath said she wants her speech to be a surprise, but hopes the topic will be relatable to the audience.
“I am talking about something that I hope everyone, not just the graduates, can relate to,” Kunnumpurath wrote in an email. “That’s part of the reason that I applied to speak in the first place. What I am talking about is something that I feel like I have noticed is very prevalent around me, and so I wanted to share my take on it.”