Calling all seniors: The deadline to apply to deliver the undergraduate student address at Northeastern University’s 115th Commencement is Friday, March 10.
All seniors who have a degree conferral date of December 2016, May 2017, or August 2017 are eligible to apply.
Applicants must submit their resumé, a typed, double-spaced copy of their speech, and a video presentation of their remarks via internet link. The typed speech should be three to five pages long, and the video presentation should not exceed five minutes.
Completed applications must be emailed to Emily Hardman, director of student programming and communications for Student Affairs. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of Northeastern’s senior leadership team will judge the applications, and the selected student will deliver his or her speech on Friday, May 5 at TD Garden in Boston.
Rules are meant to be broken. Get creative to give the best speech you can.
Tips from two previous Commencement speakers
Ben Bungert and Annika Morgan, both DMSB’16, delivered last year’s student address together. Bungert advised this year’s applicants to strive for balance in their remarks, noting that they should strike a personal yet relatable tone with their fellow graduates in the audience.
“You don’t want to ramble off a list of your accomplishments,” said Bungert, who now works as the program and marketing manager of the LearnLaunch Accelerator, a Boston-based education technology accelerator program. “Your speech needs to come from a genuine place, allowing other students to picture themselves in your position.”
He suggested that applicants practice their speech before submitting their video, but cautioned against sounding rehearsed. In other words, he said, try not to come across like you’re trying too hard. “When the judges go to pick a speech,” he said, “they’ll want to see someone who’s real and passionate but not super rigid.”
Morgan advised students to conduct some preliminary research, with a particular focus on discovering how other speechmakers have succeeded in captivating their audience. “Watch graduation speeches online,” said Morgan, the co-founder and chief program officer of Fresh Truck, a mobile food market. “YouTube is a great resource for finding inspiration for what works well and what doesn’t.”
She also encouraged students to think outside the box. “Rules are meant to be broken,” she explained, noting that she and Bungert chose to deliver their speech together, marking the first time in Northeastern history that two undergraduates shared the honor. “Get creative to give the best speech you can.”