Commencement speaker will urge graduates follow passion, do what they love

Chosen from eleven applicants and four finalists, Katie Marquette will be UAA’s student commencement speaker.

UAA Chancellor Fran Ulmer and President of the Faculty Senate Genie Babb will also address graduates and their families during the commencement ceremony.

“Commencement is the university’s capstone event celebrating the achievements of our students and the lifetime achievements of an extraordinary faculty and community,” Camille Oliver, UAA Special Events Coordinator in charge of commencement, said.

Graduation caps will be thrown, members of the Board of Regents will present honorary degrees and Marquette says she will urge students to follow their passions and have confidence as they find their direction after graduating.

“In talking to a lot of my friends I noticed a lot of people don’t know what they are going to do after graduating. If you don’t have a detailed plan for the next 20 years, that’s ok, you just have to know what you love to do,” Marquette said, who is graduating Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with an emphasis in Community and Change.

From her childhood in Fairbanks to her academic achievements at UAA, Marquette has played an active role in the community, saying she enjoys ballet, softball and cross-country skiing.

“I personally think the most import thing a new student can do is to get involved in your community. I think that being involved in the campus community is what has worked for me, getting a job on campus,” Marquette said.

Receiving special scholarships and travel and research grants from the university over the years, Marquette has distinguished herself academically. Her feats include a trip to Rovaniemi, Finland for a conference on settlement patterns of Arctic communities around the world.

Marquette is also the recipient of a Research in the Community Grant from the UAA Office of Undergraduate Research to continue her project at the Institute of Social and Economic Research, focusing on the inclusion of sexual orientation protections in Alaska’s private sector.

“I want people to see that what I did is not impossible. When you do any independent research project, you don’t have a teacher there every day saying this is what we are going to do,” Marquette said. “I learned from research that there is plenty of quantifiable evidence that there is discrimination against the LGBT community.”

The UA system is one of a shrinking minority of universities that does not offer protection for students, faculty and staff being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.

Marquette’s ambition for academic achievement, passion for social awareness and commitment to delivering her commencement speech should make for an inspiring five minutes.

“I’ve got it down to two seconds under the five minute limit,” Marquette said.

Written by Joshua Tucker