Student Commencement Speaker Application
UC Davis Graduate School of Management

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management invites students from the graduating class to apply to be the 2018 Student Commencement Speaker.


Graduating students interested in delivering the student commencement speech must meet these guidelines:

  • Attend the 2018 Commencement Ceremony on June 16 and Commencement Rehearsal on June 15.
  • Demonstrate a record of academic success, service, and involvement.


Here are some topics to consider. This is not an exhaustive list of topics.  Students are welcome to structure their presentation around additional ideas.

  • The transformative nature of your GSM experience.
  • The collaborative spirit of the GSM community.
  • How your GSM experience shaped your personal development and future outlook.

Include examples from your life at GSM, coursework, extra- and co‐curricular activities, community service, peer, faculty and other relationships developed, etc.


Interested and eligible students submit to

  • a one-page outline of their proposed speech in PDF format
  • a link to the 2-minute YouTube video of your speech’s opening remarks

The due date is Thursday, May 17 at 11:59 p.m.


The senior assistant dean of student affairs emails all graduating students who have signed up to participate in Commencement, inviting them to apply to be the student commencement speaker.

Applicants submit a one-page outline of their speech and a 2-minute video with their opening remarks. In preparing the outline, keep in mind that the final speech should be no longer than seven minutes. In selecting the best submitted drafts, the Selection Committee considers: 

  • Quality of content
  • Clarity of ideas
  • Appropriateness of topic
  • Suitability for the occasion and intended audience of students, family and friends
  • Length of presentation
  • Extent to which the speech represents the overall GSM student experience

The Academic and Executive Directors of the GSM’s degree programs (MBA, MPAc, MSBA) review the applications and evaluates each on the above criteria. The Directors’ evaluations are shared with Dean Unnava who makes the final decision.


The best speeches have meaning for the most people attending Commencement.  They reflect on the common educational experience; and share—in a personal way—the value of the GSM education. Here are some things to consider:

  • Does the message suit the occasion? Does it suit the dignity of graduation? Does it reflect GSM values? Does it convey a message that is intriguing, challenging and/or motivational? Is there a balance of personal story and a message intended for the larger audience? Does the content appeal to all graduates as well as their family and friends?
  • Is the speaker a strong presenter? Is the speaker well-prepared? Does the speaker use voice, gestures and words effectively?
  • Is the speaker engaging? Does the speaker have stage presence? Does the speaker connect with the audience?


May 4        Call for applications

May 17      Applications due

May 21      Student Commencement Speaker announced

June 1        Final draft of speech due

June 15      Commencement Rehearsal

June 16      Commencement Ceremony