Student Life

McIntire’s Inaugural Graduation Student Speaker

The experience of being McIntire’s inaugural student speaker is definitely one I will never forget. I remember when I found out I was selected. In the first second, I was excited, but the next second, I quickly realized that I would have to speak in front of an audience of ~1,000 of my classmates and our families, and I couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into.

Winnie Tsao - B.S. in Commerce '19 - speaks to fellow graduates

The experience of being McIntire’s inaugural student speaker is definitely one I will never forget. I remember when I found out I was selected. In the first second, I was excited, but the next second, I quickly realized that I would have to speak in front of an audience of ~1,000 of my classmates and our families, and I couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into.

While preparing my application and audition speech, I was actually surprised that it had been clear to me from the very start what I wanted to talk about. I thought about my experience at McIntire, the moments that have made an impact on my life, and the people who have shaped my experience. Without a doubt there was one theme that was consistent throughout all these moments: giving. What attracted me to UVA in the first place was my Days on the Lawn back in the spring of 2015. Though it feels like ages ago, I still remember that the reason I chose to come to UVA was all the kind, welcoming, incredible people I had met. UVA had and continues to have a feeling of warmth and genuineness.

To prepare the speech, I took this theme of giving and tried to integrate as holistic of a student experience as I could within the speech. I wanted every McIntire student to feel connected to the speech in some way. At the same time, I wanted the speech to be both reflective and forward looking so that we could appreciate all the good times we had at UVA but also have something that we would be able to look forward to post-graduation. After developing my speech, I thought that was the end, but that was just the start of prep. After that came the preparation of actually speaking. Working with Professor Patterson brought me back to Communications class in the Integrated Core Experience and just taking all the experience I had with presentations to most effectively convey my message. I realized that the way I presented my speech was just as important as the words themselves, if not more important.

This blog post has allowed me to reflect on both my experience as the student speaker and my last four years at UVA. Through the speech and these posts, I’ve been able to think about all the good times I’ve had at UVA, my happiest experiences, and experiences that have allowed me to learn and grow to who I am today. I’m so grateful to have had the best four years at UVA and am lucky to have gotten the opportunity to share a glimpse of my experience with my classmates and families at graduation.

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