Student Commencement speaker’s reflection on the past and future

Commencement on top of being a time of celebration is a time for reflection on both a chapter of life that is coming to a close, as well as the prospects for the next chapter in a graduate’s life.


Every year students apply for the honor of being their class’s student commencement speaker. But how does one go about becoming the voice for their class? And what have past commencement speakers done throughout their college career to warrant such an honor?


In order to be eligible an individual must meet five requirements:  be a student enrolled in a minimum three credits with good standing, graduating in the fall or spring that they apply, if receiving a bachelors degree must have on going leadership involvement for four semesters, but only two if receiving other degrees or certificates and finally complete and submit the application which can be found on the UAA website.  Once a student applies their applications goes the Student Commencement Speaker Advisory Board made up of two faculty members and three graduating students that are not applying, all members of the board are appointed by the Dean of Students. The board is responsible for determining not only if the applicants meet the above-mentioned requirements but also review their proposed commencement topic and determine the topics relevance. Individuals who make it through this phase of the application processes will be interviewed, as well as deliver their finalized speech to the board. Finally the board makes their recommendations and submits them to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for final approval.


Paula Fish, Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Green & Gold News helped compile a list of past UAA commencement speakers and what lead to them being selected Student Commencement Speaker for their year.

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2010 Commencement Speaker  Katherine MarquetteKatherine (Katie) Alice Marquette

Katie graduated in 2010, cum laude with UAA Leadership Honors. In October 2009 Katie was one of 55 international students to receive funding from the National Science Foundation to attend the BOREAS Final Conference in Rovaniemi, Finland. Later in the spring of 2009, Katie was awarded the Policy Research Internship at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) where she conducted a study on the availability of same-sex domestic partner benefits in Alaska’s private sector.  She also received a Research in the Community Grant from the UAA Office of Undergraduate Research to continue her project at ISER, focusing on the inclusion of sexual orientation protections in Alaska’s private sector. In April of 2010 Katie was awarded the UAA Office of Undergraduate Research Discovery Grant and the USUAA Student Travel Grant to present her research at the Pacific Sociological Association Undergraduate Poster Session in Oakland, California. On top of Katie’s numerous academic achievements, she also worked at the UAA Career Services Center beginning in 2007.



20110412Meisner-Stacy_6949Stacie Meisner

Throughout Stacie’s UAA career she was a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Board, member of Sigma Tau Delta, an English Honor Society, and was the editor of Understory, an undergraduate creative arts journal as well as worked as a tutor for reading and writing in the Learning Resource Center. In addition to presenting at the 2011 UAA Student Showcase.



20110316-Kent-SpiersKent Spiers

Kent Spiers utilized his time with UAA to participate in organizations like the International Student Association, UAA National Coalition Building Institute, UAA Sociology Club, The Family—the campus LGBT group—the Office of Sustainability and the Institute of Social and Economic Research, among other things. Kent earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology with a minor in environmental studies.



2013-kelsey-waldorf-commencement-speakerKelsey Waldorf

During her time with UAA Kelsey participated in the Seawolf Debate Team, representing UAA at a national conferences, she was a member of the University Honors College and participated in the Forty-Ninth State Fellows program. She has worked as a student researcher on a project with the Alaska State Troopers and Anchorage Police Department, and mentored with the UAA TAPESTRY program, which trains and matches student mentors with students who have mental disabilities. Kelsey obtained her B.A. in justice with minors in political science and communications.



Michael Ulroan

This year’s commencement speaker is Michael Ulroan. He will be the first student commencement speaker graduating from the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program. Despite growing up in a rural village Michael Ulroan, has pushed through all the obstacles and will be graduating with a major in Civil Engineering. After college he hopes to Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, ANTHC, even just find employment within the engineering industry anywhere in Alaska.