2018 MJC Commencement Speaker Guidelines and Application

Commencement Speaker Application 2018 (PDF)

Deadline to apply is Monday, February 26, 2018

Please turn all applications to the Arts, Humanities, &  Communications Division,
Performing and Media Arts Center, Room 205


Commencement Address Information


The commencement speaker praises, inspires, and congratulates a graduating class.  Since the commencement audience contains family members, friends, instructors, administrators and staff of the graduates, they usually want to hear glowing statements of praise about the graduates’ achievements.  Commencement speakers acknowledge how both the graduates and members of the audience contributed to the success being recognized that day (Gamble and Gamble, 2000).

Your goals when designing your graduation speech are as follows:

  1. Magnify the significance of the graduates’ accomplishments.
  2. Unify the audience by affirming common values exhibited through the graduation.
  3. Understand that you must represent all the graduates’ experiences at MJC, not only your own.
  4. Help the audiences identify with the event you are all experiencing.

All commencement addresses will be unique, however, there are a few guidelines and pitfalls to avoid when designing your commencement address.


  1. The speaker should begin his/her speech by congratulating the graduates.
  2. Recognize what the graduates have accomplished at MJC.  Focus on universal successes and challenges most graduates have had to face, i.e. navigating the campus, passing a test etc.
  3. Acknowledge people in the graduate’s lives that have helped her/him achieve their goals, i.e. teachers, parents, grandparents, children, friends, spouses, etc…
  4. The speech should contain inspirational messages that challenge graduates to focus on the future and roles they will play in the months and years ahead.


  1. Do not concentrate your speech on isolated incidents that are particular to your experiences at MJC.
  2. One or two personal stories can be used to make reference to a larger issue, but try to unify the audience with common references.
  3. Remember there are many unique individuals sharing the commencement experience with you.  You should always be conscientious of who is in the audience and not to belittle anyone.
  4. Commencement addresses should avoid clichés while emphasizing the accomplishments and promise of the graduates.

Feel free to contact a communication studies faculty member for assistance.  They cannot write your presentation for you, but can offer invaluable coaching advice.


Good luck!



March 2018
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Modesto Junior College

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Modesto CA 95350

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