Student Commencement Speakers

One graduating Stevens Institute of Technology undergraduate student and one graduate student are chosen annually to deliver a brief inspirational speech at their respective Commencement Ceremony. In order to apply, you must have met all requirements for graduation, have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5/4.0, be in good academic and disciplinary standing with the University, and have significant involvement in at least two co-curricular activities. Applications are due by 5 p.m. EST Friday, March 1, 2024!

For more information on speech guidelines and the application and selection process, please review the information below.    


Only those students who meet the following qualifications may apply for the honor of speaking at Commencement:

  • Meet all requirements for graduation

  • Have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5/4.0

  • Are in good academic and disciplinary standing with the University

  • Have significant involvement in at least two co-curricular activities

Application and Selection Information

Students interested in competing for this honor must follow this application process:

  1. Submit the following materials to the Office of Student Affairs by 5 p.m. EST Friday, March 1, 2024:

    • An updated resume.

    • Your intended commencement speech. The speech must be no longer than 3 spoken minutes in length.

    • Each page of the document should be numbered, but no name or other identifying information should be recognizable in this document.

  2. A Selection Committee composed of staff, faculty and students will review all applications and select students for auditions. The Selection Committee members are not aware of the name of the student when making their decision.

  3. Those students who are selected for an audition will be asked to record a video of themselves delivering their speech and share it with the Selection Committee.

  4. The Selection Committee will then choose two speeches (one undergraduate and one graduate student) for presentation at Commencement.

  5. The student who is selected must:

    • Commit to meeting with a speaker coach in April.

    • Accept guidance and edits from the speaker coach and Student Affairs staff representatives.

    • Be available for a rehearsal in May. 

    • Be present for the Commencement ceremony.

Commencement Speech Guidelines

The following are suggested guidelines for the Commencement speech.  While not all speeches follow these guidelines, most do.

Structure and Flow

  • Speeches open with greetings to the President, Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, alumni, and the fellow members of the Class, with special thanks to parents, family, friends, and loved ones who made it all possible.

  • The speaker should then respond to the question: Reflecting upon your time at Stevens, what are pivotal experiences, interactions, and/or lessons that have prepared you for your life after Stevens?

  • Speeches then transition towards their closing, often with an energetic call to action. Remember that this is a Commencement ceremony, and that it marks people moving forward and beginning new lives.

Characteristics and Length

  • Effective speeches are rich in content, have a strong theme, tell compelling stories, and ultimately inspire the listeners. They should be inclusive and demonstrate passion, conviction, and sincerity. 

  • The speech’s perspective should not reflect that of a single person or school/college or department, but all those who are graduating. 

  • Do not use offensive or inappropriate language in the speech. 

  • Please remember that the speech needs to be delivered in less than 3 minutes.


For any further questions, please contact the Office of Student Affairs by email or ask for Dean Ken Nilsen on the 2nd floor of the University Center.