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Grothaus '14 selected as student speaker for Commencement

  • Hannah-Lee Grothaus ’14
    Hannah-Lee Grothaus ’14
    The theatre major will be the student speaker at this year's Commencement ceremony, which will be held May 11.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas

With graduation just around the corner, seniors and underclassmen alike have the future on their minds. Whether it’s looking forward to another year at William & Mary or moving on to graduate school or a new job, the end of the school year brings about the possibility of change and new experiences.

These are exactly the themes that Hannah-Lee Grothaus ’14 will discuss in her address at Commencement this year. Grothaus was selected as the student speaker for the ceremony, which will take place on May 11 in William & Mary Hall.

Grothaus, who grew up in Texas but has been living in Virginia for the past six years, hopes to work in Washington, D.C. as an actress after graduating. She said her theatre major and psychology minor gave her a lot of experience with public speaking, which helped her to get the position of student Commencement speaker.

The speech should encompass the “quintessential William & Mary experience,” while still looking forward to the future, Grothaus said. Her inspiration to apply for the position of student Commencement speaker came from an insight she had stumbled across in her time at William & Mary.

“It was just really poignant,” she said. “It really stuck with me more than any other words of wisdom I had heard before. I figured it could relate to everyone graduating, so I thought, why not pass it along?”

She was so inspired by the words (which she won’t reveal until her speech) that she wrote the speech even before the competition to become the 2014 student speaker, hosted by the Office of Student Affairs, began. After being called in to read her script several times as part of the competition, Grothaus was finally chosen to deliver the speech.

“I was very surprised and honored when I found out,” she said. “I want it to be something everyone relates to. The student Commencement speaker is supposed to be the voice of the student body, and I think I have something to say that applies to everyone.”