As graduation nears, speaker still unknown

As the last couple of assignments are being turned in, the graduation party invitations are being sent out and the soon-to-be-graduates are anxiously awaiting the next stage of their lives, one question still remains: Who will be this year’s commencement speaker?

With only a few weeks left of school, I can’t help but feel a little offended that the University has yet to reveal if an important figure will be speaking at my class’s commencement.

When I look at the list of the amazing people who are speaking at graduations all over the country, I’m pretty impressed. Big influential names, such as Michelle Obama, Denzel Washington, Elie Wiesel, Tom Hanks, Bill Clinton, Stephen Colbert, Barack Obama, Amy Poehler, Steve Wozniak, Brooke Shields, Toni Morrison and Al Gore are all getting ready to speak to students from a variety of universities, and still, we don’t have a confirmed speaker.

“The Daily Illini reported”: on the lack of a speaker nearly a month ago, and the University said they were still awaiting the response to an invitation they had sent out. Weeks later, I’m still not reassured by the big, bold letters on the Committee of Commencement’s website that reads “Information to come.”

But as the May 14 to 15 graduation ceremonies get closer and closer, we need to be a little more concerned.

It is tradition for colleges and universities to invite politicians, people who have made important contributions, celebrities or other noted speakers to come and address the graduating class. It’s important for our hard work to be recognized by someone who has been in our shoes at one point and went on to do bigger and better things. With our diplomas, we have so much ahead of us and hearing a personal story helps us appreciate that.

It’s important for us to be proud of our accomplishments. Maybe going to a ceremony wearing a weird hat isn’t exactly your thing, but at least acknowledge that this opportunity is not a reality for everyone. These ceremonies are a tradition to celebrate the fact we accomplished something big.

It’s easy to forget that we go to a prestigious college and spend a lot more time than we want at the library. Right now in our country, only about 70 percent of students who graduate high school go on to “college”: We are here, we’ve done a lot in our four years, and we deserve a great speaker to inspire us to do even more.

There are many different views about the ceremony itself. Maybe you think graduation is an outdated tradition that needs to be renewed, or maybe you’re so excited for the moment you walk across the stage in your cap and gown. Regardless, we should all acknowledge that graduating from our university is still a big deal, and we should be graced with the presence of an influential speaker just as much as all the other prestigious universities across the country.

The clock is ticking, and our four years are almost up. The graduating class of 2011 is ready for the announcement of our speaker.

_Ashley is a senior in LAS._