Commencement > For Students > Student Speaker Application

Student Speaker Application

(DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
DePaul University invites graduating students from the Class of 2020 to apply to be the student speaker at their respective commencement ceremony.  It is an honor to be selected to present the student commencement address - to convey a message of inspiration and encouragement, share common experiences and insights, and inspire your fellow graduates to carry the DePaul tradition out into the world.​​ The deadline to apply is March 6. Please see below for other key dates and deadlines. 

Apply to be a Student Speaker here​.


Graduating students interested in delivering the commencement address must meet these criteria:
  • Be eligible for graduation.  
  • Be in good academic and disciplinary standing.
  • ​Commit to attend and participate fully in the commencement ceremony, including the audition on April 17, 2020 and a mandatory rehearsal on May 29, 2020.


  • The address should be between 3 – 5 minutes.  This translates to approximately 400 – 650 words or 2 – 3 double-spaced, typed pages.  
  • ​Because you will present the speech to fellow students graduating from more than one school or college, except for Business, it is important to keep the DePaul themes broad.  
  • Discuss the transformative power of the DePaul educational experience and the Vincentian mission – how it develops a desire to make a change in the world.
  • Include examples from collegiate life such as common coursework (general education classes), residence life, co-curricular involvement, service, reflection on the mission and values of DePaul.
  • Avoid references that are unique to personal experience unless they provide insights into an extraordinary life lesson valuable to your listeners.
  • A variety of emotional content is always welcome in a speech.  Humor is useful as well as a serious tone, as well as joy and sorrow.  You do not have to include all of these, but emotional monotony can make for a difficult listening experience.

Submission Pr​ocess

​​Eligible and interested students are required to submit an online application. This application must include  a copy of the manuscript of your commencement address. You must also include a 1-minute video (via YouTube or another video hosting service) of yourself presenting a portion of your written commencement address. 

Selection​ Process

A selection committee comprised of representatives from each college and the Student Government Association will review entries and choose student speaker candidates to attend an in-person audition on April 17, 2020. At t​he audition, the student speaker candidate will present a draft speech before the selection committee. 
The selection committee will consider the following when making their selection of student speakers:
  • Clarity of ideas
  • Appeal to a broad audience & common experiences of DePaul students
  • Quality of speech content
  • Length of presentation (appropriate word length)
  • Extent to which the speech represents the mission and values of DePaul
  • Speaker’s delivery – well prepared, engaging, vocal variety, animated delivery, stage presence
  • Taking into account the above criterion the committee will also seek a diverse representation of DePaul students.
The selection committee will announce the selected speakers no later than one week after the auditions are completed.  The selection committee will also notify unsuccessful applicants at this time. The selected speakers will work with a coach to refine their speech and delivery.  
Important Dates
  • December - Application opens
  • March 6 - Application closes
  • April 17 - Auditions 
  • May 29 - Student speaker rehearsal
  • June 13/14 - Commencement ceremonies