Commencement Speaker FAQ

When is the deadline to submit my application?

Deadline to submit is Wednesday, October 25, 2017 – 10:00AM.


How many speakers will be chosen?

One speaker will be selected for each of the three Fall 2017 Commencement ceremonies.

  • Ph.D. Ceremony – Friday, December 15, at 9:00AM
  • Master’s Ceremony – Friday, December 15, at 3:00PM
  • Bachelor’s Ceremony – Saturday, December 16, at 9:00AM


Are there certain requirements I must meet to be considered?

Yes, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a graduate in the ceremony
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Grant permission to verify academic standing
  • Have a history of participation in campus and/or community activities
  • Acknowledge the speech submitted is your own work and that you have adhered to the Student Honor Code in the creation of this speech


How do I apply?

  • Click here to summit your draft speech and video (the video requirement is new this year!).
  • Speech should be between 2-3 minutes in length (you will be timed!)
  • Speech should be secular in tone, provide inspiration to the graduates, and recount times spent together at Georgia Tech.
  • Speech should also be relatable to and appropriate for the entire audience including parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, faculty, and staff.
  • Applicants must feel comfortable speaking at a podium and in front of a very large crowd.


What is the selection process timeline?

  • Deadline to submit is Wednesday, October 25 – 10:00AM
  • Committee reviews submissions October 26 – November 10
  • Finalists notified of their audition time by November 11
  • Auditions conducted Wednesday, November 15 from 2:00 – 4:00PM in room 117, Smithgall Student Services (Flag building)


What should my speech be about?

  • An info session will be held on Wednesday, October 11 at 10:00AM on the 4th floor of Clough Commons in the Communications Lab for those interested in learning more about writing your speech and the application process. RSVP –
  • As you polish your speech please keep in mind you are talking to your peers and their families and guests, so a positive and inspiring presentation is hopefully how you would like to be remembered. 
  • Try to avoid writing your speech entirely about yourself.  The committee will be looking for a speech with a little humor, some relation to GT (of course), and your/students time spent here, with an inspiring message/story to take forward for all!
  • Stage presence is important as well.  You don’t have to memorize your speech; however, you also shouldn’t read it word for word! 
  • Be mindful that if chosen to speak at commencement, you will be expected to deliver the speech you presented to the selection committee and rehearsed with the Clough Communications staff.


How will my application be reviewed?

The Commencement Speaker selection committee reviews and scores all applications to narrow down finalists.  The committee is comprised of Students, Faculty, and Staff.  The finalists for the commencement speaker will be contacted via email to schedule an audition the following week. 


How will finalists audition?

  • Auditions will be conducted in room 117 (auditorium) in the Smithgall Student Services (Flag building) on Wednesday, November 15 between 2:00 – 4:00PM. Finalists will be notified of their specific audition time (within this 2-hour block of time) on Friday, November 10. 
  • You will give your speech at a podium in front of the selection committee. 
  • All auditions will be held on the same day.  If you are selected as a finalist, but unavailable to participate in the on-campus audition (i.e. internship, etc.), you should submit a video of your speech in the mp4 format.   If selected as a finalist, you will be directed where to send this video.
  • The student commencement speaker for each ceremony of the three ceremonies will be selected at the end of the auditions, and will be notified via email within 24 hours of the audition.


If selected, will there be assistance to help me with my speech?

 Yes, the individuals selected for each ceremony as the Student Reflection Speaker will work with staff in the Communication Center in the Clough Commons to rehearse and finalize their speech. The dates and times for practice will be scheduled once the individuals are selected.


If chosen, when will I speak during the ceremony? Will I be able to join my classmates during the ceremony?

The student reflections speaker will speak at the beginning of the ceremony and then will rejoin his/her classmates.


For more information, please contact Debbie Dorsey in the Division of Student Life at 404 385-1562 or