Commencement Student Speaker Is ‘Average College Kid’

Posted: May 9, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

Adriane Hopkins
Adriane Hopkins
Creative Services photo

Adriane Hopkins did not expect to be selected as the student speaker at Commencement.

“When [my professor] came in and said in front of everybody else who had tried out that I was chosen, I smiled,” says Hopkins, a Communication major. “But it wasn’t until everybody left was I like, wow, I won something.”

The graduating senior auditioned with 13 other students for the honor of speaking at Commencement.

For her Commencement presentation, she will present a speech that focuses on her experiences at Mason and what they mean to her. “[The speech] is about art, it’s incorporating the idea that we all didn’t have the same experiences. We created our own experiences much like an artist creates his masterpiece.”

Hopkins is trying to focus on her exams this week but admits she is anxious about speaking at Commencement. “I’m a little nervous – delivering something that comes from your mind and your heart in front of that many people, that’s intense.”

Hopkins is modest about her accomplishment. “The one thing that I think is a good thing [why] I got chosen is that I am the average college kid. I didn’t necessarily belong to sports teams. I didn’t necessarily make Dean’s List every semester. I participated in things. I had pride in the school before Final Four. I think it’s important that we have someone with the average experiences who went to class and did the normal thing.”

There are two routes to audition to be the student Commencement speaker. The first method is to enroll in COMM 399 Special Topics in Communication, taught by Peter Pober, director of Mason’s Forensics Team. Participating in the audition, which is judged by a panel of six faculty members, three students and several administrators, serves as the final exam in the class, and that is the route Hopkins chose.

However, enrollment in the class is not required. Any student is eligible to try out, according to Dan Walsch of University Relations, who was on the selection committee. The committee judges the student on the content of the speech, the coherence of the presentation and whether or not the student speaker is articulate.

When the committee selects the winner, it also endorses the speech the student presented. Accordingly, major changes are not expected in the speech delivered at Commencement.

“Adriane talked about her experiences at Mason and what it meant to her as a person, as a potential student of the world,” says Walsch. “The committee was very impressed with her presentation and felt she will do an outstanding job representing this year’s graduating class.”

Hopkins does not have immediate job plans following this month’s graduation, although she has interviews lined up. Her goal is to get a job in public relations.

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