Commencement Speeches

As the academic year draws to an end, students from across the country will be attending graduation ceremonies to have degrees, diplomas, and certificates conferred on them based on their level of training.

Photo credit: Wiki Commons -Graduating class of students.
Photo credit: Wiki Commons -Graduating class of students.

This is a momentous occasion not only for students but also their parents, families, friends, and teachers. It is a formal affair that is marked with some degree of pomp and pageantry.
It involves an academic procession by faculty decked out in their academic regalia with students marching in tandem behind in their gowns. This procession is also usually accompanied by music and singing. After which there is the ceremonious recommendation and formal conferring of degrees upon graduands.

However, central to the graduation ceremony is the commencement speech. This is usually delivered by the president of the institution or by a special invited guest who is a prominent member of the society.

The commencement speech one would argue should make an indelible mark on the minds of graduates. It should not only reflect upon the work of students to the point of graduation but also serve to challenge, motivate, and inspire graduands to take control of their destiny and make a meaningful contribution to society.

Today, however, not many graduates can recall a single thing that was said or even remember the name of the person that gave the commencement speech at their graduation.
Moreover, it is not uncommon to see students and even faculty on the podium nodding off to sleep or doodling during some of these speeches.

The fact of the matter is some of these speeches are long, drawn out and simply put ⎯ just boring! At the other extreme, one will find them loaded with a lot of jokes, fluff, and style but lacking any real substance.

Administrators should rethink their approach seriously when considering guests for commencement speeches. The truth is not every politician or prominent member of the society has the ability or the oratorical skills to inspire graduands on such an important occasion.

Davy Desmond, Senior Staff Reporter