English Major Dezanii Lewis serves as Spring 2023 Commencement Speaker


English Major Dezanii Lewis graduated with a concentration in Creative Writing in Spring 2023. She describes here how she was selected to serve as the student commencement speaker.

“I received an email from Associate Dean Banita Brown in March stating that I had been nominated by a faculty member as the student commencement speaker for CLAS. The email went on to detail the process for consideration: I had to draft a speech, record it, and send both the recording and the draft with the application. I didn’t think I would actually be selected — in my head, commencement speakers were witty, clever and gregarious with an affinity for delivering the most moving of speeches. I didn’t feel that I could live up to that, but somebody thought I was worthy, so I decided to go through the process. I drafted my speech with a focus on how victims of circumstance can overcome said circumstances to become victorious. Getting a degree is hard work and sometimes I feel like people often overlook how much fight goes into getting this far. I wanted to highlight that while also congratulating all of the graduates on a job well done and of being “victors of circumstance.” I added a quote by Tolkien to further illustrate this: “Not all who wander are lost.” I submitted the draft and recording of my speech, and about a week later, I heard back that I had been selected. At first I thought that my speech might be off putting and unrelatable, but after commencement, several students stopped me to tell me how much my speech resonated with them. It was an incredible moment to see how full circle everything had come for me and for my fellow graduates.”