Harpur College Commencement

Student Speaker Application Process

One of the highest distinctions a student can receive is to be selected as the student speaker for Commencement. It is a chance to represent Binghamton University and Harpur College by giving an address that inspires, encourages and reflects the vision and hopes of the Class of 2020. The address not only commemorates the event, but also gives students the opportunity to pay tribute to those who have helped them along the way as well as tout the accomplishments of fellow graduates.

During the Spring semester, three undergraduate graduating seniors will be selected to address their class at the Harpur College Commencement Ceremonies to be held Saturday, May 16, 2020. Students will be selected for each ceremony based upon their major(s) and the ceremony in which they fall. The breakdown by department for each of the ceremonies can be found on the Binghamton University Commencement website.


To be eligible, the student must:

  • be a Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020 or Summer 2020 graduate

  • be in good disciplinary standing at the University

  • demonstrate academic success

  • be an active participant in the University community (i.e., leadership position in club or organization, mentor on campus or in greater Binghamton community, etc.)

Application Requirements

Complete application materials are due at noon, Monday, March 9, 2020. Note: Only submissions that are 100 percent complete will be considered. Requirements are:

  • Personal statement – include information about yourself as well as why you wish to represent your class at Commencement

  • Résumé - a brief one-page résumé that includes your school, major and any University activities

  • A complete first draft of the speech you'd like to give at Commencement

  • Two references;

    • References must be professors, administrators or staff members at Binghamton University

    • Letters of recommendation are not required, but will be accepted.

Submission of Application Materials

All application materials must be submitted via this link

Speech Guidelines

  • The speech should be substantive, meaningful and entertaining

  • The topic should be relevant to graduates, but should also address the general audience

  • The address should inspire, encourage and reflect the vision and hopes of the Class of 2020

  • Speak of new goals and how the graduates will attain these goals; try to avoid bemoaning the world's problems

  • Original content is required; this speech should be developed expressly for the Commencement ceremony

  • It is often helpful to focus on two or three key points/messages you want to convey to the audience

  • Speech length should not exceed 4 minutes

Selection Process

  • Phase I: Submit Application Materials

    Monday, March 9 by noon.

    The complete student speaker application, must be submitted no later than noon on Monday, March 9.

  • Phase II: Application Review

    Monday, March 9 – Friday, March 20, 2020

    Harpur College Commencement Committee will meet and review all applications. Please be aware, any incomplete applications will not be considered. 

  • Phase III: Interviews and Presentations

    Week of March 23 – Selected speakers will be scheduled for interviews during the week.

    A brief, 15-minute interview will be conducted with those candidates selected by the committee during Phase II of the process (application review). Upon completion of the interview, the student will be asked to give his/her prepared speech to the committee.

  • Phase IV: Selection

    Friday, March 27, 2020 by noon.

    Applicants will receive the committee's decision via email no later than noon on Friday, March 27.

  • Phase V: Commencement Speaker Preparations

    Monday, March 30 – Friday, May 15, 2020

    During this time period, the selected speaker will work with the Commencement Office to prepare and finalize his/her speeches. This includes a rehearsal in the Events Center with a final review by the University's Communications and Marketing Department.