Can’t We Get a Well-Known Commencement Speaker?

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Published April 29, 2016
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The Montclarion
Melisa Valovera | The Montclarion
Melisa Valovera | The Montclarion

Melisa Valovera | The Montclarion

On April 14, Rutgers University New Brunswick announced President Barack Obama would grace their graduation festivities as their commencement speaker. Rutgers students took to social media to express their excitement over the news.

Most Montclair State University students were amazed when they heard the news from their friends who attend Rutgers. Since then, Montclair State students have been anxiously waiting to find out who their commencement speaker will be.

With the countdown to graduation closing in here at Montclair State, the 2016 commencement speaker is still unknown to students.

However, students are hopeful that this will be the year that the university finally gets an awesome speaker. Yet, from past experiences, many have begun preparing for the worst.

Students want a commencement speaker who will give insightful advice for the future and get them ready to enter the real world. But past commencement speakers have left something to be desired. For example, the class of 2015 listened to the Honorable Stuart Rabner, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. At the time of the announcement, very few students even knew who the speaker was. Although Rabner may have inspired future lawyers during his commencement address, he may have also put a few art students to sleep.

Since Montclair State has a wide array of majors, minors and certifications, the commencement speaker must be someone who is able to relate to all the students. While Rabner clearly has an impressive résumé, he is not of interest to all students. In many cases, students skip commencement simply due to the fact that they cannot relate to the speaker.

At the same time, a majority of students do not continue their education beyond their bachelor’s degrees. Therefore, commencement is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the university should treat it as such.

Montclair State is the second largest university in New Jersey, but it is the first in poorly-chosen commencement speakers. With Rutgers stepping it up and having a presidential commencement, it is time for Montclair State to do the same.

Montclair State needs to find commencement speakers that interest and excite all students, not just some. Students deserve a great send-off into the rest of their lives, and a great commencement speaker can close the chapter on college and open a new one on the right note.

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