Student Commencement Speaker

Being chosen as the Bellevue College Student Commencement Speaker is an honor and carries significant responsibility. The person selected represents graduating students and plays an important role in the Commencement Ceremony.

Bellevue College’s Commencement Ceremonies are traditionally held in June at the end of Spring Quarter. 

The following information describes the criteria and process for selecting the speaker.

Student Commencement Speaker Process 2024

Committee Members:

  • Chair: Rebecca Mbaka (non-voting member)
  • ASG Advisor: Mike Kaptik
  • ASG Officer: Daniel Ngoy
  • Faculty: Bruce Wolcott
  • Staff: Aidrien Wilkins
  • Student at Large: Katana Hewett
  • ASG Senator: Kes Smith

Student Speaker Requirements

Academic Standing:

The student applying for the commencement speaker role must maintain a solid academic record, with a GPA of 2.5 or higher.


Candidates must be current students who expect to graduate in that exact year.

Application Submission:

Application materials may include a written speech, a resume, a cover letter, and a letter of recommendation.

Speech Content:

A well-written and compelling commencement speech addressing the graduating class and reflecting on their academic journey. The speech may be required to align with the theme or purpose of the commencement ceremony.

Contributions to the College Community:

Demonstrated contributions to the college community through involvement in extracurricular activities, clubs, volunteer work, etc.

Public Speaking Skills:

Strong public speaking and communication skills. The candidate must present their speeches to the selected committee.

Selection Process:

Willingness to participate in the selection process, which may include interviews, speech presentations, or other evaluation methods.

Positive Character and Leadership:

Positive character traits, leadership qualities, and the ability to inspire and connect with fellow graduates.

Availability for Ceremony:

Availability to attend the commencement ceremony and deliver the speech on the scheduled date.

Deadline Adherence:

Adherence to the application deadline and other timelines set by the college for the commencement speaker selection process.

Selection Process

Complete the online Student Commencement Speaker Application:

Submit your application online. The application requires a Cover Letter, your Resume or Curriculum Vitae, your proposed Commencement Speech, a short Biography that includes the degree you are earning, and one Letter of Recommendation. Incomplete and late applications will not be considered.

Applicants are notified & finalists are invited to sign up for auditions:

The selection committee will review all applications and select finalists. All applicants will be notified if they are selected (or not) to audition and finalists will be sent a link to sign up for a specific audition time.

Interview and auditions:

Each finalist will sign up for a 15 minute time slot.  Auditions consist of an introduction and delivering your speech to the selection committee.

Speaker is notified:

All those who audition will be notified by email. The candidate who is selected to speak will be paired with a faculty/staff coach to revise and refine the speech from the time of selection through the date of Commencement. The selected speaker will need to provide a photograph and complete a biographical form to be used in press releases and in the introduction at the Commencement Ceremony.

Speech Rehearsal:

Selected speaker only.

Bellevue College Commencement Ceremony (date yet to be finalized)

Previous Commencement Speakers

The Commencement ceremony at Bellevue College brings pride and a sense of accomplishment to graduates in front of their families, friends, faculty and staff. Student Engagement is proud to have participated in the selection process of the following outstanding students as speakers for their respective graduating classes:

2023: Jemima Elongo

Jemima Elongo

Jemima Elongo, an international student born in Kisangani, DR Congo, obtained her high school diploma from a French international school and is pursuing an associate degree in computer science. Despite the difficulties of adapting to new environments, Jemima has demonstrated unwavering determination. She has also actively sought opportunities to make a positive impact on others. As a peer educator at the Welcome Center, she provides valuable support and guidance to incoming students, creating a welcoming environment where newcomers feel comfortable and supported during their transition. Her role as a Global Leader for international education at Bellevue College enhances her ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and foster cultural understanding. Jemima’s commitment to academic excellence and community involvement is reflected in her membership of the prestigious Phi Theta Kappa Society. Additionally, she founded the club “Pan African Women in Society” to create a safe space for women to learn from and uplift each other. She represented “Qatar” as the delegate of the second General assembly (Economic and Finance) at the Model United Nation 2023 and participated in the APAHE conference in 2023. These initiatives demonstrate her dedication to empowering others and effecting positive change in society.

In addition to her passion for technology, Jemima has a deep love for writing and musicals. Her exceptional talents were recognized when she won the heritage prize at the International Art Book and Film Festival in 2019. Currently, she is working on a book titled “What About Tomorrow?” which serves as a memoir dedicated to college students who feel lost and seek guidance in navigating the complexities of higher education. Outside of her academic pursuits, Jemima actively volunteers off-campus. She participates in Loop Event Volunteer, a non-government organization that helps reduce hunger around the world. Her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others extends beyond her immediate community. Jemima has received offers from universities in California, Georgia, and Washington, and she is currently evaluating her options to make the best choice for her future endeavors. She wants to give back to her community because she herself received a lot.

2022: Florida Mahano Cishesa

Florida Mahano Cishesa

Florida Mahano Cishesa was an international student from the Democratic Republic of Congo in the International High School Completion program at Bellevue College. In Spring 2022, she graduated with an Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering. She transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Florida completed her degree during the COVID pandemic, but it could not stop her from having an impactful time at Bellevue College. She worked at the Academic Success Center as a Math, Physics, and English tutor, as a peer assistant at the International Education and Global Initiative, and as a peer assistant at the BC Makerspace. In addition, she served as the Vice President of Fellowship in the BC Phi Theta Kappa chapter, and she was a 2022 All-Washington Academic Team winner and a top 16. Florida was the recipient of the 2021 Hoffman Calculus Award, a 2022 Transforming Lives Award nominee, and a Global Academic and Leadership Award winner. She enjoyed volunteering on and off-campus, and she held a volunteer project in partnership with the RISE Learning Institute and Sustainability, where BC students recycled plastic bags by turning them into yarn and crocheting them into bedrolls to be distributed to the homeless. She conducted a one-year-long physics research project together with her Physics professor, Robert Hobbs. Florida found a home at Bellevue College and a supportive community that guided her toward accomplishing her dreams and goals. She learned how to give back to her community by mentoring, tutoring, and supporting other BC students.

2021: Kevin Allen

Kevin Allen

Kevin Allen, a Phi Theta Kappa member, will earn his Associate in Arts and Science with Distinction and in addition, an Alcohol and Drug Professional Certificate. In winter of 2019, Kevin matriculated at Bellevue College as a student in the Alcohol and Drug counseling program.  He has been employed by Multicultural Services as a work study Student Assistant where he was awarded The MCS Diane Harrison MCS Student Excellence Award and has been a mentor with the MCS Connects Mentoring Program. Kevin has held many leadership roles on our campus including being a part of the Achieving the Dream Core Team and attending the National Conference in Maryland. He also volunteered as a Student Representative on the Student Success Council.  Kevin remains as an alumnus, active in many areas of campus governance, including the Addressing Anti-Blackness Taskforce outreach efforts. 

2020: Tyra Asmore-Barquet

Tyra Asmore-Barquet

Tyra Asmore-Barquet graduated with an Associate in Arts and Sciences degree. While at Bellevue College Tyra worked as a Trio Program Assistant and an Administrative Assistant where she learned how to help and support students from diverse backgrounds. In 2019, she became the Associated Student Government Campus Life and Events Representative and in this position she planned and coordinated campus-wide events for the Associated Students of Bellevue College. Tyra enjoyed supporting student-led clubs and programs. Tyra’s co-curricular engagement added to her learning experience and knowledge which helped her decide on a career after completing school.

2019: Marijke Thomas and Audi Brown

Marijke Thomas and Audi Brown

Marijke Thomas (L) graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Digital Marketing. While a student at Bellevue College Marijke held various student marketing positions. She acquired strong leadership and interpersonal skills that includes coaching, motivating, and relationship building. Marijke was a member of Bellevue College’s DECA for three years and won two state championships.

Audi Brown (R) graduated with a transfer degree with intentions of studying Gender Women, Sexuality Studies and Psychology at the University of Washington. She served as the Associated Student Government Events Representative, was on a Bellevue College Recruiting Student Panel, University of Washington Board of Directors Student Panel, and a large variety of other committees and conferences.

2018: Mike Kwispond

Mike Kwispond

Mike Kwispond was an International Student from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and earned an Associate Degree in Civil Engineering. While a student at Bellevue College he was a Student Peer Leader at the Peer Assistant Leadership Services Center and Student Ambassador.  Mike really enjoyed giving campus tours and helping people while building relationships with students and staff.  He transferred to Seattle University.

2018: Erik Uri

Erik Uri

Erik Uri graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.  He was a member of the Student Advisory Board for the Computer Science Department which helped direct how programs could best serve and prepare students for success in the industry.  Erik was also in the Autism Spectrum Navigator program and member of the Speech and Debate Society.

2017: Phillip Nguyen

Philip Nguyen

Phillip Nguyen came to Bellevue College as an International Student from Vietnam to pursue requirements to become an Electrical Engineer. During his time here, he worked in the Student Engagement Peer to Peer program, mentoring other students navigating college.

2016: Yazmeen Paredes 

Yazmeen Paredes

Yazmeen Paredes was a Running Start student and a tutor in Math and English through the Academic Success Center. She then held the position of ASG Justice of External Affairs. During her time at Bellevue College she was a member of the Helping Hands club, which raised funds to support needy causes within the community.

2015: Melantha Jenkins 

Melantha Jenkins

Melantha Jenkins was the 2014 – 2015 Associated Student Government President, in addition to serving as the commencement speaker. Her journey as a single mother struggling with her grades to an active, successful student leader was an inspiration. She transferred to Howard University in Washington, D.C.

2014: Shoshanna Moore

Shoshanna Moore

Shoshanna Moore was a non-traditional student, returning to school after being laid off from her job. Through worker retraining, she excelled in school, earning her associate degree and a place in the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. Shoshanna was hired by the Writing Lab, published a non-fiction piece in the campus literary journal The Belletrist, and aided in the writing of position papers for the Model United Nations program.

2013: Safae Zniber

Safae Zniber

Safae Zniber was the first commencement speaker to be a bachelors candidate. Safae was an international student from Morocco, earning her Bachelor of Applied Arts in Interior Design over four years while working in the Office of Student Engagement, remaining active in clubs and programs like the Black Student Union and El Centro Latino.

2012: Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen was an international student from Vietnam. She was a business major who transferred to the University of Washington Foster School of Business. While a student at Bellevue College, Anh worked at the PALS Center (now known as the Student Business Center) and was very involved in Student Engagement Leadership Institute activities.

Last Updated February 5, 2024