Choosing the next commencement speaker

Institutional News Student Life

Missouri Western extended the deadline for looking for their next commencement speaker for the graduating class of spring 2018. The deadline to be the next commencement speaker has closed since Friday, March 23, and that was the final deadline.

The reason for the extension was said by Vice President of Student Affairs Shana Meyer “We always want to make sure that we have enough students to be able to speak, and those students can make a choice. We have had 1-2 spots available and when we don’t have very many nominations we just like to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to get that nomination, and compete for the chances if they are still interested.”

Western will be choosing a senior that has been nominated by faculty, the reason for this is because the student has everything fresh in their head and they can reflect and tell how their experience was at the institution.

According to Meyer about the right qualities for a student to be speaker. “Somebody that has a compelling story would be great, that’s been everything from what they gained at their time at Missouri Western, to challenges they overcome, to some of the spirit or the things they learned.”

Another quality the school is looking for is someone that represents Western in a good way.

The nomination process works by either having a student nominate themself or be nominated by faculty or other students. The nomination will be asked if they want to speak. If he/she says yes. Then the nomination committee will ask them to read a portion of their speech with them.

The process is further explained by Meyer, “Then they (student) come in with at least a portion of their speech prepared and present that in front of a committee. The committee has a rubric that they evaluate the speech, and then we make a decision as a team.”

The speech committee comprises of the Vice President for Student Affairs, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, Student Body President, and one additional Student Affairs Representative.

The committee grades the speech based off purpose, clarity, the tone, volume, complete thoughts like sentence structure, formality, good eye contact, appropriate gestures, as well as timing. Each nomination can obtain up to 36 points, they may or may not be asked questions after the paper.

Each nomination that chooses to speak has their own way of telling a story or getting the message across.

Commencement speakers will have a speech lasting from 7 to 10 minutes and at least one practice will be scheduled with the speaker and the university President. If needed, additional practices can be scheduled.

Each nomination can have fun with getting the message across, for Associate Professor and previous commencement speaker for the graduating fall class of 2017 Mark Mills, he said, “I didn’t want to be like everybody else. So, I kinda milded over about it and I talked about it and I decided to focus on about applied learning. The snake I bought was secondary to that. I felt like I should have a prop. I wanted to be different and I thought. How many people bring a snake to graduation?”

The snake that was bought by Mills was a Rat Snake taken from the ecology lab at the school.

Each nomination can have different reactions when giving the speech some nervous, some not so nervous.

Mills said, “It was a little different than a normal lecture, and I lectured to some pretty big lecture halls. But there was something different about speaking at a graduation. It’s a very different audience, theirs family and theirs friends, business leaders and maybe a politician thrown in there somewhere.So I have to be honest, I have been lecturing for many years. This is the first time in a long time I have had butterflies. It was a little bit nervous.”

Another Previous Commencement speaker for the spring semester Alex Atkinson said, I thought it was a great honor, we gotta represent our graduating class, the university. It was a really cool opportunity, a humble experience, one that was really rewarding. To be completely honest I was not nervous. I think you get nervous before going up there. But once I spoke into the mic I was completely fine.”

The message for a story can be impactful to others. Atkinson said, “I hope that the message got to some people, I did my best to kinda mix it up, I hope that it got to some people. It’s not about what you said it’s about how you made them feel.”

Four nominees have been nominated and will be giving their speeches to the speech committee. Out of those four, one nominee will be selected to be the commencement speaker for Spring 2018 graduation.