Student Commencement Speaker

Grand Valley holds four official Commencement ceremonies during the academic year; three ceremonies in April and one ceremony in December. A special honor is provided to a graduating student to address the University community during each Commencement ceremony. The selected speaker will add a student’s voice to address their peers, as well as university faculty and staff, honored guests and families during the ceremony. The comments will reflect on their experience at Grand Valley State University and how their graduating class will make a difference with their Laker Effect.

Application is now closed.


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

  • Be an eligible member of the graduating class (undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral).
  • Be in good academic and judicial standing.
  • Write their comments and work with a speech coach as designated by the University for the weeks prior to the ceremony.
  • Arrive early to the ceremony for a stage rehearsal, and attend and participate fully in the Commencement ceremony on the date and time for which they are selected.


Open Information Sessions

Two open student information sessions are scheduled. In addition to addressing individual questions, participants will receive information on:

  • Services available at the GVSU Speech Lab
  • How to record and submit video
  • How to request additional assistance or accommodations

Drop by these open times scheduled:

Thursday, February 13
4-5:30 p.m.
DeVos Center Atrium, Pew Grand Rapids Campus

Friday, February 14
12-1:30 p.m.
Kirkhof Center Lobby, Allendale Campus

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 selection committee review. Students will be vetted to ensure that they meet the eligibility requirements.

The deadline to submit an application and a video link for the Winter 2020 ceremony is Friday, February 28, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Late submissions are not accepted.

Speech Guidelines

  • Tell the story of how your educational experience at GVSU helped to shape your life, your future profession, or your society/community.  Consider reflecting on your overall academic experience, co-curricular involvement, or service opportunities.
  • Keep themes broad as fellow students will graduate from more than one program and college.  Share common experiences and insights.
  • Inspire and encourage fellow graduates to carry the GVSU Laker Effect out into the world.
  • Comments are limited to no more than 3 minutes – this translates to approximately 400 words or two double-spaced, typed pages.

Selection Process:

The speakers will be selected by a committee through both an electronic and in-person application process held fall and winter semesters. The Selection Committee will review applications and select semi-finalists.

Semi-finalists for the Winter 2020 ceremony must be available to attend an in-person audition on Friday, March 27 to present their final draft comments.

The committee will seek a diverse representation of GVSU students and consider the following when making their speaker selection:

  • Clarity of ideas
  • Appeal to a broad audience and common experience of Grand Valley students
  • Quality of speech content
  • Length of presentation
  • Extent to which the speech represents the Mission and Values of GVSU
  • Speaker’s delivery - well prepared, engaging, stage presence

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

Applicants will be reviewed using this Commencement Speaker rubric.