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Student speakers will address fellow graduates at Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies April 29

Two students chosen through a competition hosted by the Division of Student Affairs will address their fellow graduates during Ohio University’s Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies Saturday, April 29. Seniors Sarah Boston and Nicole Morino will reflect on their OHIO experiences during the morning and afternoon Commencement ceremonies, respectively. 

The competition, in its second year at Ohio University, gives graduating seniors the opportunity to share their own reflections at Commencement alongside the keynote speaker. The Student Commencement Speaker Committee then reviews entries and chooses the winners, who will have the honor of addressing their classmates during the ceremony. 

“I think it’s important to have a student speaker because nobody can relate to the student experience or what they’re going through better than a student,” said Brian Heilmeier, senior assistant director for student activities and chair of the Student Commencement Speaker Committee. “All the applicants did a wonderful job and had great stories to share, but Sarah and Nicole were able to articulate the student experience. Both had unique stories to share that we felt were very relatable.” 

The committee auditioned every student who entered the competition, which involved preparing a 500-word speech or five-minute video of their proposed Commencement address.

Boston, who is earning her bachelor of specialized students in event planning management, hails from Washington Court House, Ohio. She will address graduates during the 9:30 a.m. Undergraduate Commencement ceremony.  

“I have always loved public speaking and when I saw the email that anyone could audition I thought this was a great opportunity,” she said. “I thought that this would be a great way to end my college career and decided to take a leap of faith and audition.” 

Boston said she is excited for the Commencement ceremony and sharing her experience at Ohio University, while also looking forward to the future and how her undergraduate education has prepared her for the next steps in her career. 

“This honor is extremely humbling,” she said. “I am very excited to stand up and represent my peers during graduation through my speech. I have always appreciated the power of words on a person’s life experience and I hope my speech will resonate with those listening and help them to reflect on their experience here at Ohio University.” 

After graduating, Boston plans on completing an 8-week internship with Touch of Elegance Wedding and Events, an event planning firm in Detriot, Mich. While at OHIO, Boston has been involved in University Program Council, Athens Beautification Day and Bobcathon, among others. She also served as stage crew for the National Association for Campus Activities National Convention, in Baltimore, Md. 

“My favorite memories from OHIO are the ones where my friends and I were together,” she said. “Whether we were bowling, or watching movies or just chilling on someone’s porch, those are the best memories. UPC has also given me so many memories in my college career. From building a team with 20 of my peers, to planning my first event, to releasing Shaggy as the #tbt artist this year, it has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life.”

Morino, a double major in global studies - war and peace and political science from Rocky River, Ohio, will address graduates during the 2 p.m. Undergraduate Commencement ceremony. 

On campus, Morino has been involved in the Arabic Language Student Association and Phi Alpha Delta Pre Law Academic Fraternity, as well as serving as a tour guide and Global Studies Student Ambassador. Morino was also an Embedded Fellow with International Peace Park Expeditions, where she and another OHIO student completed a baseline survey for the Environmentally Responsible Action Group in Peja, Kosovo, to research the National Park Bjshket e Nemuna.

“I transferred to Ohio University in my sophomore year because I wanted a better community feel during my college experience,” Morino said. “I wanted a place where I could smile at everyone and be smiled back at. My favorite memories at OHIO are the little moments like walking through College Green and seeing a friend across Court Street.” 

After graduation, Morino will volunteer at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center before beginning graduate school in August at Loyola University of Chicago, where she’ll pursue a graduate degree in women and gender studies. 

“I am excited to continue my education and focus more on the topic of gender studies and finally be able to really contribute to improving women’s rights on an international level,” she shared. 

In the meantime, however, Morino will focus on celebrating her last weeks at OHIO with friends. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing my friends graduate,” she said. “Being the student Commencement speaker means telling my story – the good times and bad – and being proud of myself. Graduating from college is an incredible accomplishment.”