- GW Home
- About GW
- University Life
- News & Events
- Faculty And Staff
Picked for the Podium
April 11, 2011
GW student earns speaking role at Commencement.
The decision was unanimous.
Collin Stevenson, B.A.’09, a graduate student in the Elliott School of International Affairs, was selected out of seven contestants as the 2011 student commencement speaker at the student speaker competition April 8.
In front of a judging committee made up of GW faculty, staff and students, Mr. Stevenson spoke about the experiences he has had and the lessons he has learned while at GW, and charged his fellow GW students to help change the world and make a difference in the lives of others.
“What Collin had to say about the things that had shaped him into person he is today were meaningful to all of us in the room, on campus and in the world,” said
Jill Kasle, GW’s university marshal and student speaker competition chair.
“It was humbling to be in the room with the other candidates,” said Mr. Stevenson. “I’m really excited to speak at Commencement.”
After graduation, Mr. Stevenson will enter intelligence school in Texas as a member of the Air Force. A native of Washington state, Mr. Stevenson will leave GW with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and a master’s degree in Middle East studies. He is a presidential administrative fellow and GW cross country letterwinner.
When asked by Ms. Kasle about his decision to enter intelligence school, Mr. Stevenson talked about his grandfather, an Air Force bomber pilot who flew intelligence missions in Europe and during the Korean War. His grandfather was later devastated by the destruction to civilians he had caused, and Mr. Stevenson told the judges that both his grandfather’s story and the skills he learned at the Elliott School, have inspired him to improve national security policies.
“In asking each candidate a few questions, the most fascinating material comes out,” said Ms. Kasle. “Collin ended up inadvertently giving two speeches. I wanted to clap at the end of his story!”
Students begin competing for the speaking position at their individual school. Each school holds a competition or selection process to choose a student to speak at the school’s diploma ceremony. Schools set their own criteria for participation in the competition such as a specific grade-point average. One student from each school (two from the Columbian College) gets to compete in the university-wide competition.
To prepare for his big moment, Mr. Stevenson said he will work on pacing himself and “not mumbling”— but will also be sure to enjoy his last few weeks at GW.
“I will tape my speech to a mirror and look at it, but my focus is soaking up the last month of friendships I’ve had here and that little thing of graduating on time!” he said. “Speaking at Commencement will be a nice cherry on top of an incredible six years at GW.”
To return to the George Washington Today homepage, click here.