Graduation Speeches

It's that time of year when a young college student's fancy turns to nostalgia as they pass from undergraduate academia into the "real world" or go on to even higher education.  And it's that time of year when parents attend graduation ceremonies, wade through the pomp for the circumstance of seeing their child walk across the stage and receive their hard-earned diploma. For us, that moment was last week.  First a little background and some crow.  When Kelsey was in 5th grade, we started homeschooling her.  Most of my relatives were concerned because they were sure she would never get into a good college.  Strangers shared their concern that she'd never be "socialized." Well, not only did she graduate (double major) with honors from one of the most prestigious schools in the nation, but she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and received history honors as well. Additionally, she was involved in a Christian sorority and a few ministry organizations where she was on the leadership and worship teams.  Kelsey performed with her choirs and even had several solos.  She traveled all over the world both for ministry during Spring Breaks and to spend an entire semester as a Russian Exchange student.  Lastly, she visited Israel where she engaged in ministry, evangelism and fellowship. I guess that puts to bed the theory that homeschoolers will never get into college and are doomed to be a wallflower counting library books! The graduation ceremony was impressive, elaborate and uplifting. Although the Keynote Speaker spoke the day prior to the graduation ceremony (rather odd if you ask me), the graduation speeches were short, thoughtful, inspiring and well rehearsed.  Each student's honors were announced as they walked across the stage and many graduated with double majors and more than one minor as well! There were a few students who received awards for excellence and the speeches given to honor their many accomplishments in their four short years at Vanderbilt were awe inspiring.  Most of the parents had children who had incredible acheivements in their own right, but these recipients wowed us all. Our plane got in just in time for us to make her Phi Beta Kappa ceremony.  The ceremony was very nice, but the Keynote Speaker's performance shocked me and, apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought so. The Keynote Speaker was Alice Randall, an accomplished author of diverse interests.  All in attendance were impressed with her credentials.  She wasn't a Vanderbilt graduate, which was curious to me.  She was from Harvard.  She wasn't a member of Phi Beta Kappa, which really surprised me, but what shocked me was the construction of her speech and, most problematic, the delivery. Ms. Randall's speech was not very well organized.  It contained random thoughts that I thought would be tied together in a neat bow come the conclusion, but I was wrong.  It was full of inspiring thoughts, wisdom and strange references tied together in a rather incoherent way. What really blew me away was her delivery which had a serious lack of polish.  She stammered her way through it as if she had written it only the night before and hadn't had time to practice or even become familiar with her thoughts.  She back tracked several times after having forgotten something important.  All in all, her speech was poorly organized and even more poorly delivered. She recieved a standing ovation from most of the audience which proves the politie nature of Southern people.  However, many in the audience were mumbling under their breath about her delivery, especially at such a prestigious event at a top rated university.  Later, I heard from my daughter that many of the new initiates into Phi Beta Kappa were also shocked at her performance. I'm sure many of you have stories to tell about your son or daughter's high school or college graduation.  Please share! ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ If you liked this post, read…Seven Reasons Why YOU Should Sign Up for the Art of Eloquence Newsletter


  • Barbara Frank

    Congratulations to your daughter! You must be so proud of her :)

    When my son graduated from college in 2007, the speaker was Doris Christopher, who started the Pampered Chef. I had high hopes for her speech and, like you, was disappointed by it. It was mostly stream-of-consciousness speaking. A wasted opportunity, IMO. Anyways, so happy for you re: your dd’s success :)

  • Art of Eloquence

    Thanks, Joan. I’m not sure. She had incredible credentials and was from Harvard. Sounded more like she didn’t take this assignment very seriously.

  • Joan

    Congratulations to you both! :)
    Wow, wonder what happened with the keynote speaker? Was she having a particularly bad day or was she not properly ‘vetted’?

  • Art of Eloquence

    It doesn’t have to be college. Could be high school. I’ve actually seen more speeches done during high school graduations than at this college one.

  • Carla

    Big congratulations to Miss Kelsey on her stellar accomplishments! I wish I had a graduation story but, alas, mine are not into academia. Oh well. . .

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