Some candidates for a quality commencement

With my graduation now less than two months away, I’ve
started wondering: who will give the commencement address at
St. John’s this year?

Although I know I won’t be as lucky as the students at
the University of Michigan, where President Barack Obama
is speaking, or even as the students at NYU, where actor
Alec Baldwin will address the crowd, I have hope that St.
John’s can attract someone who is well-known and respected
in whatever fi eld he or she is in.

While an offi cial announcement won’t be made by the
school until the week of April 12, I’ve compiled a list of the
top four people I’d like to give the commencement address
at my graduation this year. The four people I’ve chosen are
all big names, but not too big that they’d be completely out of
the question to speak at St. John’s.

That being said, here are my top four choices for the 2010
commencement speaker:
Michael Bloomberg: Who better than the mayor of New
York City to speak to the diverse group of students graduating
from St. John’s? I remember when Bloomberg took offi
ce back when I was in the eighth grade-it’s now almost a
decade later, and Bloomberg could easily give an inspiring
speech about how New York has changed over the last 10 years,
resonating with students and their parents.

For this year’s graduating class, Bloomberg will have been the
mayor the entire time they were in college, and he has actually
worked with St. John’s students through his PlaNYC environmental
initiative, which he started in 2007. With this connection to St.
John’s, and St. John’s commitment to “going green,” Bloomberg
is a natural fi t to give the University’s commencement address.

Nicholas Kristof: Back in October, Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer
Prize-winning New York Times journalist, spoke at St.
John’s about his latest book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression
into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which he cowrote
with his wife Sheryl WuDunn. The book chronicles
the couple’s journey to parts of Asia and Africa where women
have very little, or no rights at all.

I think Kristof’s dedication to human rights across the globe
really gels with St. John’s Vincentian mission, and his lecture at
the University last semester attracted a large crowd with many raving
about him afterwards. As a commencement speaker, Kristof is
someone who could defi nitely inspire a new generation of human
rights activists and humanitarians.

Andrew Cuomo: The current New York State Attorney General
is a prominent Catholic politician and a Queens native who
has had a successful career in politics over the last two decades.
With many saying he will enter the race for New York State Governor,
giving the keynote address at the St. John’s commencement
ceremony would be a great way for Cuomo to get back into the
spotlight and attract some new voters, too.

Cuomo’s father, Mario, is former governor who graduated
from St. John’s with both his bachelor’s and law degrees. With a
family connection to this borough and this university, Cuomo is
someone who could relate to this year’s graduates in a way that
few other speakers probably could.

Diane Sawyer: As someone interested in pursuing a career in
journalism, I’ve always admired Sawyer’s work as a female in a
predominantly male fi eld. Her job as an anchor on Good Morning America made her a household name, and she recently became the anchor of ABC World News.

TV news anchors are popular commencement speakers (CNN’s
Anderson Cooper is speaking at Tulane University this year), and
since ABC World News tapes in New York City, I don’t think it’s
too much of a stretch to say that Sawyer could make a possible
commencement speaker at St. John’s. She has had a long, fruitfulcareer in broadcast journalism, and would be able to impart a lasting impression on all of this year’s graduates.
Each of my top four choices has unique ties to New York
City, and would generate excitement among those attending
the long commencement ceremony on May 16. While I’m
not sure if any one of my top four will be the chosen commencement speaker, I hope that whomever St. John’s choice is someone who can inspire the crowd.