Student Speaker Competition

empty podium at commencement

The Student Speaker Competition allows students to compete for a chance to address classmates and the rest of the GW community at Commencement on the National Mall.

Undergraduates, graduates, on-campus and distance learning students are eligible to compete. Candidates must be in good academic standing with the university.

Process to Compete
To enter the competition, please submit:

  • a biography (maximum 150 words)

  • text of the speech you would like to deliver at Commencement if you’re selected

  • video on YouTube or Vimeo of your speech (maximum length of three minutes)

Up to 10 finalists will be invited to audition in person or through Skype in front of the competition’s committee.

The committee will select a winner after the auditions.

The deadline to submit materials is 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

Apply to be this year's student speaker at Commencement

Additional Rewards

If you’re chosen as the student speaker, you will receive:

  • six Commencement tickets in the reserved seating section

  • a photo with the main Commencement speaker

  • invitations to special events during Commencement Weekend

  • commemorative Commencement photos

We invite you to audition for this unique GW tradition that has been around since 1992. 

About the Competition

Student Speaker Deadlines with speaker in background

Dates & Deadlines

The deadline to submit materials is 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

Dr. Adrienne B. Hancock

Public Speaking Tips

Review tips by Dr. Adrienne B. Hancock, associate professor of speech and hearing sciences.

Previous Student Speakers

  • Richard Ruiz speaking at Commencement

    Richard Ruiz, Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2015

    U.S. Marine Captain Richard Ruiz, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences graduate student, spoke about the power of imagination. 

  • Gabriel Felder taking a selfie on stage before his speech at commencement in 2014

    Gabriel Felder, School of Media & Public Affairs, Class of 2014

    A political communication major, Mr. Felder captured the bittersweet nature of graduating from college in his speech.

  • Alexander Zafran on stage during his 2013 speech

    Alexander Zafran, Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2013

    Alexander Zafran, a classical studies major, made use of his Latin roots in a stirring speech that underscored core GW values— leadership, service and education.

  • Noreen Kassam on stage for her 2012 commencement speech

    Noreen Kassam, Elliott School of International Affairs, Class of 2012

    Noreen thanked the university for all of her experiences, which included internships at the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency.