Student Commencement Speaker

The Student Commencement Speaker offers an address during the fall and spring commencement ceremonies and serves as the representatives of the graduating class. Providing the student address during this important university event is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class, reflect upon the past few years, and convey a message for the future. Along with notable members of the UAA and UA community, as well as other important Alaskan representatives, the Student Commencement Speaker participates in pre-commencement activities and is seated on the main stage during the program.

Apply to be Spring Undergraduate Commencement Speaker

This semester you will apply for undergraduate commencement speaker through Seawolf Life.

You will be required to sign in using your UAA username and password, and create and account. You will then be directed to the commencement speaker application.

If you have any problems or questions please contact Zac Clark at 907-786-1371 or

The deadline to apply is Sunday, Mar. 10, by 11:59 PM.

Apply to be UAA Commencement Speaker



The Student Commencement Speaker offers an address during commencement ceremonies in the fall and spring.

Providing the student addresses during these important University events is an opportunity for the selected students to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class, reflect upon the past few years, and convey a message for the future. As the representatives of the graduating class, the speakers are expected to have made significant contributions to the campus and Anchorage community and have achieved academic success. Along with notable members of the UAA and UA community, as well as other important Alaskan representatives, the speaker(s) will participate as requested in pre-Commencement activities and be seated on the main stage during the program.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants must be graduating in the semester (fall or spring) of application (fall graduates apply in the fall deadline; spring/summer graduates apply in the spring deadline)
  • Enrolled in at least three (3) credits at the University of Alaska Anchorage and in good disciplinary standing
  • Minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA at time of application
  • Completed application

Awarding Process

The Student Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee is appointed by the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and composed of two faculty members and three graduating students not applying for the honor.  The Advisory Committee reviews applicants on the merit of their involvement at UAA and the Anchorage community, quality and relevance of their proposed commencement speech, and academic excellence. Finalists will interview with and deliver their commencement speech to the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee's recommendation is submitted to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for final approval. Graduate and undergraduate student speakers are selected.

Past Speakers

  • Fall 2023 - Bay Alabdulbaqi
  • Spring 2023 - Tuan Graziano
  • Fall 2022 - Tylantiss Atlas
  • Spring 2022 - Teresa Novakovich
  • Fall 2021 - Tanya Charoonsophonsak
  • Spring 2021 - Jessica Reisinger
  • Fall 2020 - Jamie Bagley
  • Spring 2020 - Clare Baldwin, Alex Jorgensen
  • Fall 2019 - Rose Kruger
  • Spring 2019 - Geser Bat-Erdene
  • Fall 2018 - Katherine Irwin 
  • Spring 2018 - Lyndea Kelleher
  • Fall 2017 - Alexandria McLearen 
  • Spring 2017 - Nina Lee
  • Fall 2016 - Sophie Leshan
  • Spring 2016 - Jonathon Taylor 
  • Fall 2015 - Ruddy Sirri-Akonwi Abam

Application Checklist 

  • Narrative Essay 

    Please respond to the following prompt, and then select to respond to two additional prompts below.

    Answer questions thoroughly. Responses should be limited to one page, typed, double-spaced per question.

    • Why do you want to serve as a Student Commencement Speaker? Why do you feel you are the best representative of the graduating class?
    • Respond to two of the following prompts:
      • Describe your most significant UAA leadership experience or challenge. Explain how this experience influenced your understanding of leadership.
      • In what ways have your leadership contributions strengthened the UAA and/or Anchorage community, aided in the creation of a positive environment, or improved the experience of others?
      • How has your participation in leadership experiences prepared you to assume future leadership roles in society?
      • How have you influenced others to get involved with the UAA or Anchorage community? What are the most fulfilling and challenging things about leading others?                   
  • Written Draft of Your Proposed Commencement Address

    It is recommended the speech focus on celebrating the graduating class’ accomplishments, reflecting on the past few years and conveying a message for the future. When read, this address should not exceed five minutes in length.

  • Leadership Resume

    Resumes should include dates associated with each experience and describe the following:

    1. Elected or appointed leadership positions and jobs with areas of responsibilities, accomplishments, and/or skills acquired.
    2. Membership sin organizations, committees, or boards and any details of work with these groups.
    3. Scholarships, honors, awards or special recognitions.
  • Letters of Recommendation 

    Three letters of recommendation are required. Two letters must be from current UAA faculty or staff and one recommendation may be from outside of the university. Letters should highlight the applicant's accomplishments, as well as why they are deserving of this honor. Recommenders may submit their letter directly to the Office of Student Life and Leadership, in the Student Union 218, or via e-mail at, but it is the responsibility of the student to ensure all application materials are submitted by the deadline.

    The letter should include the following information:

    1. Examples of the student’s strengths in regards to leadership, co-curricular involvement, and/or character and the impact they have had upon the UAA campus community or a specific student population.
    2. A clear explanation of why the recommender personally feels this student is deserving of representing the graduating class.
    3. All recommenders should support these statements with references to personal experiences with the student.


  • Confirmation of Graduation 

    Upload to the application one of the following:

    • Copy of Application for Graduation
    • Letter of Degree Completion with Date
    • Confirmation E-Mail

Creating a Commencement Address

The Student Commencement Speaker has the privilege of addressing all UAA students from those receiving certificates to those receiving masters degrees. While there are many people in attendance at the ceremony the goal of the student speaker is to represent and speak to their fellow students.

The Graduate Degree Hooding Ceremony Speaker will address their fellow graduate students at a special ceremony that focuses on master's and doctoral degree candidates, as well as their accomplishments. 

When creating the speech, it is important to reflect somewhat on UAA student experiences, but the speech is not only about retrospection and the experiences students had while at UAA. The speech should also look forward and provide some sense of the future, some sense of inspiration. Finally, commencement is a day for celebration. It is important to infuse the speech with sense of accomplishment and pride.

Consult the following resources for ideas:


For additional information regarding eligibility or selection process, contact:
Zac Clark, Associate Director, Student Life and Leadership