William & Mary

Colleen Truskey ’17 selected as student speaker for Commencement

  • Student speaker:
    Student speaker:  Colleen Truskey '17 will serve as this year's student speaker for Commencement.  
Photo - of -

When asked about the message she wants to convey to her peers as they reflect on the past few years and look toward the future, Colleen Truskey ‘17 said that she wrote the speech that she herself would want to hear on graduation day. As this year’s Commencement student speaker, Truskey hopes to encourage and inspire her fellow graduates with that speech on May 13, in Kaplan Arena.

Originally from Roanoke, Virginia, Truskey is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and a minor in public health.

“Seeing how anthropology can be used to understand, talk about and address public health issues in particular has been really powerful,” said Truskey.

Her passion for Native American communities and indigenous people is reflected in the many activities that she has been a part of at W&M and elsewhere. Truskey has interned with the anthropology department’s American Indian Resource Center, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s American Indian Initiative and the White Earth Land Recovery Project on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.

Assistant Professor of Anthropology Danielle Moretti-Langholtz attributes Truskey’s success as a student to her genuine thirst for knowledge and growing enthusiasm for exploring contemporary real world issues. 

In her four years at William & Mary Truskey has accomplished a great deal. She is a James Monroe Scholar, Altshuler Scholar and honors fellow, has studied abroad in China and was selected to be a resident of the Colonial Williamsburg house.

“I look at where I was when I first arrived and where I am now, and it’s just really amazing, all the opportunities that I’ve had access to,” Truskey said.

Truskey acknowledges that every generation faces certain trials and tribulations. However, “it can be tough to graduate now in a world where facts don’t matter, and the points are made up,” she said. What she wants her classmates to walk away knowing is that in a world full of cynicism they are graduating with a certain set of skills that are valuable and important.

“We are the ones that determine the direction we are going,” said Truskey. “We have to stay focused and create the world that we want to see.”

In preparation for graduation, yet another opportunity has presented itself for Truskey right here at William & Mary. Truskey has accepted a year-long fellowship with the W&M Center for Geospatial Analysis. She has also accepted a position with the National Trust for Historic Preservation as the Native American Heritage editorial intern for the summer.

“I'm confident that, as she leaves William & Mary, a bright future lies ahead for this outstanding student,” said Moretti-Langholtz.