There are two sorts of commencement speeches. We are all familiar with the one given by a Dean or guest speaker. It is all about the future and the opportunities available. The other speech though is one given by a graduate or valedictorian.
Often that graduate or valedictorian will be an accomplished public speaker. Perhaps he or she will have been in a debating society or rhetoric class. So he or she will not be concerned about actually giving the speech, but won’t know what the content should be.
A graduation day is a day when you look back at your years of study and look forward to the future ahead. It’s a day when you feel good because you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish. It’s often a day of mixed emotions because your youth is now behind you and your are stepping forward to face the challenges of adult life. In this you are no different to most other students and you should mention the fact in your speech.
You may, of course, be a mature student and have a different way of looking at things. It’s possible that you have worked for years and are older than most of your classmates. You may have been working full time and going to college and that is extremely tiring. You should mention this in your speech if it applies to you.
In some respects the day is sad because you come to the parting of the ways with many of your friends Now is the time to speak about what their friendship has meant to you. Talk about what you learned from different people. Now is the time to talk about those great nights at the college disco or the fun you had putting on a show in college. Now is definitely the time to remind those
friends to stay in touch.
Graduation day is a day when you celebrate and quite rightly so. There is no harm in reminding your audience that you are going to paint the town red tonight. They will appreciate what you feel and will be happy for you.
You should end your speech by giving your fellow graduates a few hints on what they can hope to do in the future and finally you should wish them well whatever they do.
If you have a few tears in your eyes it’s to be expected. After all it’s a very emotional occasion when you have to say so many “goodbyes.”