American University is seeking two undergraduate and two graduate students to speak at the Fall Commencement ceremony on Sunday, December 19, 2021. Eligible students must have graduated in August 2021, September 2021 or have been cleared to graduate in December 2021.

Candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Satisfaction of all degree requirements as of commencement date
  • Competitive academic record 
  • Participation in extracurricular activities, service, and/or leadership opportunities on and off campus
  • Professional experience through jobs and/or internships

Interested students should submit the following materials to Justin Williams:

  • Resume
  • Brief statement explaining interest in being a speaker
  • Outline of your proposed speech (speeches can be no longer than 3 minutes)

Each document should be separate and submitted as a PDF, with the file name of each document formatted as "last name, first name, documentname.pdf." The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, October 17

A committee of representatives from each school and college, Office of Campus Life, and the President's Office will review applications, and students will be invited to audition their full speech in a final round. Selected finalists will be notified the first week of November and asked to submit a full, complete draft of their intended speech and will be required to audition the speech before the committee. 

Student speakers will receive a complimentary cap and gown and will be listed in the commencement program.

Questions about the process can be directed to Justin WilliamsFall 2019 speeches are available as a reference.

Each school or college ceremony includes an address by a graduating student. The selection of the student speaker is coordinated within each school. The process begins in early February. Speakers are announced by the dean's office in late March or early April.

If you would like to be considered as a student speaker, contact your school's commencement coordinator.

Singer Auditions (Spring Only)

The Office of the President and the Department of Performing Arts seek five graduating seniors or graduate students to sing the National Anthem at each of the five American University commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 7, and Sunday, May 8.

Auditions will take place on Tuesday, March 22, between 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in the Katzen Arts Center. To sign up for an audition slot, please contact Pete Chamberlain in the Department of Performing Arts at dpa@american.edu or come to Katzen Room 100, Monday-Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Please use the subject "Commencement Audition" and let us know a range of preferred times. We will set your audition and respond. Each singer will be assigned a five-minute audition. Students should come prepared to sing the full National Anthem, a Capella and memorized, in a standard key comfortable for them (usually B-Flat, A-Flat, or G if necessary). Please bring a one-page resume with contact information.

Students who are selected will be assigned to one ceremony, receive a complimentary cap and gown rental, and listed in the commencement program. We cannot guarantee that singers will be assigned to their own graduation ceremony. Anthem singers must be eligible to participate in the May commencement ceremonies and are required to wear the AU cap and gown. The Special Events office will brief the singers in the days prior to graduation.

University Awards (Spring Only)

See the University Awards website for additional information about the awards and criteria. The nomination process will begin in late January. Professors and advisers can nominate students, and students can also nominate themselves.