Meet your Senior Commencement speakers!

As you may know, Brown University proudly upholds the tradition of electing two members of the graduating class to address the crowd of eager graduates rather than hiring a Commencement speaker from outside of the Brown community.

Many members of the Class of 2015 anonymously sent excerpts and ideas for a commencement speech to a ten-person committee, comprised of Deans McSharry and Rodriguez, four seniors (chosen by those deans), and four faculty members (including Professor Barbara Tannenbaum of the famed Persuasive Communication course). The committee selected about 10 finalist proposals, whose writers were given recommendations and asked to flesh out and perform their entire speech. Based on those performances, the committee selected the two commencement speakers. Introducing…

Michelle Bailhe ’15 and Lucas Johnson ’15

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Michelle Bailhe
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Concentration: Human Biology
Freshman Unit: Morris (Unit 19?) 4th floor
Most Likely to be Found: Morning: Scili basement, Afternoon: Carrels of the Rock, Night: Dance studio

Lucas Johnson
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Concentration: Education
Freshman Unit: Champlin 3rd floor, (s/o to Champlin Cheetahs, Christian Petroske, the 3rd and 4th floors)
Most Likely to be Found: Lurking around the Blue Room attempting to get his friends who are on meal plan to buy him something. At night, in the SciLi basement photoshopping absurd self-referential photos with his friends in order to avoid doing work.

BlogDailyHerald: Did you two know each other before being selected as the commencement speakers?

Michelle: No, but we have a mutual friend. Several actually. My friend who dances with me is living with him next year, but somehow we never met.

Lucas: It’s very strange, the overlap was astounding in retrospect.

BlogDHWhat motivated you to apply to be a speaker? Do either of you have public speaking experience?

Lucas: I didn’t expect to get nominated, I didn’t nominate myself, and I still don’t really know who nominated me. I just thought that it would be a very helpful exercise in reflecting over the past couple of years. And I thought, well, okay, someone felt that I had something important to say. So I took a lot of time processing that, and actually was very close to not submitting anything because trying to sum up four years in a couple of pages is really stressful. But I decided to give it a shot, and now I’m here.

Michelle: I remember the speeches that came out the year that we got into Brown, the 2011 speeches. I was still questioning my decision to come to Brown, and somewhat nervous about it. I remember Vivi Tran’s speech, “An Education in Altruism,” and that was the first time that I felt 100% that I had picked the perfect place and people for me. I wanted to be able to do something similar, and I think the fear of not being able to sum up four years in two pages definitely stopped me at first, but I realized it didn’t have to be that, and it could just be a “slice” of an experience that hopefully resonated with people. That became much easier to write.

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Last Call: Hillary Jacobson

Then + Now

Then + Now

As the semester progresses at the speed of light, the senior class is beginning to make peace with that fateful day in May: Commencement. Until the class of 2015 leaves us, BlogDH wants to highlight all the interesting things they’ve been up to. To this end, we’re (re)starting the series Last Call, which features seniors reflecting on their experiences at Brown. Each featured senior will tag another senior for the next installment. Find this year’s other “Last Call” chain here and our RISD “Last Call” chain here.

People might know me as… that girl that reads super quickly? It’s something that seems so normal to me, but never ceases to fascinate others.

In my time at Brown, I am most proud of… my friends. They are kind, thoughtful, inclusive, genuine, fun, weird and love to eat. They are my explanation to anyone who asks if I’m happy I chose Brown. I’m proud to know them.

On Friday night, you might find yourself… at the end of one of two extremes. Either reading a book and falling asleep by 9 or seeking out a party with friends.

Three things you wish you knew freshman year…

  1. You can declare your concentration anytime, not just second semester sophomore year. The earlier you declare, the sooner you get a concentration advisor who can help you navigate the concentration.
  2. Ran Zan on Hope St. They actually have acceptable sushi with fresh fish. It makes me crazy that I went through almost all of Brown not knowing this.
  3. 90% of the boys you will have a crush on will turn out to be gay.

Ratty vs. V-Dub… No eatery on campus offers enough healthy options, although the oatmeal at both the Ratty and the V-Dub, and the salmon at the Ratty are surprisingly wonderful.

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Last Call: Mark Valdez

 

Then + Now

Then + Now

As the semester progresses at the speed of light, the senior class is beginning to make peace with that fateful day in May: Commencement. Until the class of 2015 leaves us, BlogDH wants to highlight all the interesting things they’ve been up to. To this end, we’re (re)starting the series Last Call, which features seniors reflecting on their experiences at Brown. Each featured senior will tag another senior for the next installment. Find this year’s other “Last Call” chain here and our RISD “Last Call” chain here.

People might know me as… the boy with too many pairs of Warby Parker glasses who watches too much television.

In my time at Brown, I am most proud of… coming in second in BlogDH’s Senior Superlatives for “Most Likely to be on SNL.” It would have been too much pressure to live up to if I’d won.

On Friday night, you might find yourself… singing “Friends in Low Places” or “Out Tonight” at The Boombox.

Three things you wish you knew freshman year…

  1. You’re not going to find love in the next four years. So, stop looking for it. You’ll be happier.

  2. I can’t sing. My high school drama director lied to me. I was cast in leading roles, so I thought I could sing. I got to Brown then never got a callback for any acapella group or musical.

  3. My parents know, so just tell them already.

Ratty vs. V-Dub… V-Dub forever and ever. I met my best friends at the V-Dub the night before classes, so I consider it a magical place. I’ve missed only a handful of Chicken Finger Fridays. I’ve grown close with Celeste, one of the BDS workers, and I’m already tearing up thinking about saying goodbye.

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Senior Send-Off: Where you lead

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Then + Now

Where you lead, I will follow
Anywhere that you tell me to
If you need, you need me to be with you
I will follow where you lead.

Carole King’s song, “Where You Lead,” better known as the theme song for iconic television show Gilmore Girls, has served as the soundtrack of my senior year. Just ask my two roommates – they hear the tune echoing through our apartment much more frequently than they’d like. In fact, after they began to sing along mockingly and enthusiastically to King’s frequent crooning, I began self-consciously muting my computer every time that familiar title sequence comes on.

It does not help that Gilmore Girls spanned seven seasons, with each season consisting of 22 episodes. That means that my roommates have, so far, been subjected to 93 renditions of “Where You Lead,” and for that, I feel that I must apologize.

Following the lives of mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore has served a much greater purpose than simply providing fodder for procrastination. These women accompanied me while I worked on my VISA0100 projects, as I folded my laundry, and when I ate my eggs in the morning. They bantered on while I browsed the Internet for jobs and distracted me when I just couldn’t bare to think about one more bullshit answer to the question: “What are you going to do after graduation?”

But here is the key fact that I realized about these two women: they’re not real. It came as much of a surprise to me as it likely did to you. They are not the people who have collaborated with me on class projects or accompanied me to Jo’s at 2 a.m., though they did remind me of the power and strength of loyalty. (Granted, being loyal to a television show is not much of an admirable feat; in reality, it’s more of an indication of utter laziness.) The connection between Rory and Lorelai is infamously strong; they epitomize good chemistry and unfaltering devotion. It seems serendipitous that I would only discover this enviable bond at the moment in my life when I would be spending the most time reflecting on the lessons I have learned from the myriad “real” relationships I have developed at Brown.

This semester, Gilmore Girls became my one constant, my one quiet respite from it all, upon which I could always rely to quiet down the “who’s” “what’s” and “where’s” that relentlessly accompany the prospect of leaving Brown. However, the dependence I developed on Lorelai and Rory sheds light on what I consider to be my greatest accomplishment at Brown: finding those who I would be with anywhere that they needed me to be.

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Last Call: Darian Surratt

Then + Now

Then + Now

As the semester progresses at the speed of light, the senior class is beginning to make peace with that fateful day in May: Commencement. Until the class of 2015 leaves us, BlogDH wants to highlight all the interesting things they’ve been up to. To this end, we’re (re)starting the series Last Call, which features seniors reflecting on their experiences at Brown. Each featured senior will tag another senior for the next installment. Find this year’s other “Last Call” chain here and our RISD “Last Call” chain here.

People might know me as… Darebear, Naomi, Leila, or Layla.

In my time at Brown, I am most proud of… managing to watch all four seasons of Ugly Betty, among other things, during Fall 2014 finals. I’m extremely proud of my level of dedication and followthrough in this instance, and I hope it will translate to other things I do moving forward.

On Friday night, you might find me… convincing my reluctant friends to drink and go out with me and falling asleep before we make it out of the apartment.

Three things I wish I knew freshman year…

  1. CAPS exists and they’re literally there to listen to you talk about your issues, however big or small. I wish I had known that it was not only okay to ask for help, but that we might all be a little better off if we could admit that sooner.
  2. Read Morning Mail!!! A lot of people miss really cool events on campus because they don’t read it. (p.s.: sometimes Heavy Petting is only advertised on morning mail and you don’t want to miss that)
  3. If you shop a class that you’re excited about and find yourself bored while sitting in, DON’T TAKE IT (unless you have to). It probably won’t get better, even if the material looks really interesting.

Ratty vs. V-Dub… Ratty with my bffs Uday Agrawal and Abby Plummer.

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Last Call: Nicha Ratana-Apiromyakij

As the semester progresses at the speed of light, the senior class is beginning to make peace with that fateful day in May: Commencement. Until the class of 2015 leaves us, BlogDH wants to highlight all the interesting things they’ve been up to. To this end, we’re (re)starting the series Last Call, which features seniors reflecting on their experiences at Brown. Each featured senior will tag another senior for the next installment. Find this year’s other “Last Call” chain here and our RISD “Last Call” chain here.

Then + Now

Then + Now

People might know me as… The woman who insists that every meeting happens at Baja’s, sends late and profusely emotive emails, has great shoes, or checks you out from across the Blue Room — hey.

In my time at Brown, I am most proud of… My amazing friends, who have brought me to their house open mics, to farms, to state parks at night, and taught me how to game pub trivia, how to dance ugly in public, how to be nice.

On a Friday night, you might find yourself… Shame-playing Sean Paul while the lamb is roasting.

The best class/professor at Brown is… The best class is Catherine Imbriglio’s Lyricism and Lucidity, because we had something really magical there. It’s so important for writers to build an intentional community of feedback and support; we helped each other through a lot.
The best professor is Deak Nabers, he has a powerful mind.

Three things you wish you knew freshman year…

  1. Learn how to cook! Every home-cooked meal is a gesture of love.
  2. Stop dating what you want to be, be what you want to be.
  3. Do the reading! Conversely, the ability to talk about a book you haven’t read is the most useful “real life” skill you’ll get from a liberal arts education.

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