University Communications has announced plans to host an in-person commencement ceremony in May 2021. The ceremony will include the class of 2020, whose commencement was cancelled due to COVID-19. (Sara Boyd/B&W Staff)

Association of Student Alumni and Student Senate choose senior class speaker


Every year, students from the Association of Student Alumni, ASA, and Student Senate gather for weeks to choose a senior representative to speak at commencement.

It’s an application process that takes weeks to complete.

Student Senate sent out an email to all graduating seniors in March and gave them two weeks to submit an application, including a resume and a two-minute video delivering a rough draft of their speech.

Michael Mauriello, ’19, is this year’s senior speaker.

“I really love public speaking,” he said. “It’s one of the things I’m really good at, so when the opportunity came up I was like ‘I’m jumping all over this.'”

This isn’t the first time Mauriello has been asked to speak. He was the student keynote speaker at last semester’s open house for prospective students.

With 16 candidates this year, choosing a speaker was no easy task.

“We wanted to find the student who would be a representative for us as the typical Lehigh student,” said Stephanie Pugh, ’19, a representative of Association of Student Alumni on the student speaker committee. “Someone who’s highly involved on campus, showing us, as Lehigh students, that we work really hard, get involved, get to know people and further our future careers after Lehigh.”

Student Senate reaches out to Association of Student Alumni every year to help them form the student speaker committee and asks for a few representatives from Association of Student Alumni who may be interested, Pugh said. This year, three members of the committee are in Association of Student Alumni and four members are in Student Senate, including the president and vice president.

The committee invites six candidates back after the first round of applications in order to watch the seniors speak in person and give them some notes.

There are two fellow seniors and senators on the committee including Bohan Chen, ’19, who during his final weeks at Lehigh recognizes the importance of this speech.

“We want the speech to give students a positive image at the end,” Chen said. “We’re looking for a speech that delivers a good message, a speech that can make everyone feel good.”

When the decision was announced on April 10, Mauriello said he was shocked.

But Chen said the committee spent a lot of time deciding on the speaker and was impressed with Mauriello’s credentials.

“We make sure every candidate is reviewed at least three times,” Chen said.

Mauriello is a dedicated member to both the club baseball team and the debate society. He is a double major in finance and marketing.

“I wanted the it to be an address for the entire graduating class because no one wants to hear your story,” Mauriello said. “They want to hear their story… I wanted it to have it be both funny, and as serious and profound as a 22-year-old could muster.”

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