Student speaker to focus on resiliency, a topic she knows well

Alysia Kezerian

Alysia Kezerian, a business administration major from Danville, California, has been selected as the student speaker to address the graduating class of 2016 at this year’s commencement ceremony in Matthew Knight Arena on Monday, June 13.

For Kezerian, this is familiar territory: She’s given two prior graduation speeches during her academic career and is considered by professors, friends and family to be a great public speaker.

"I was the graduation speaker at my middle school and high school graduations — and this is going to sound so silly, but I just couldn't break the tradition," Kezerian said. "The main reason, though, is that it's just unreal how much I love this school and this is my way to give back, to profess my thanks and love to everyone."

Kezerian will join Comedy Central president and UO alumnus Kent Alterman on the speaker's platform for the main university ceremony, along with the thousands of graduates on the floor.

As a graduating senior, Kezerian has four years of memories to share with the audience and only about five minutes to do so. She hopes her fellow students will be able to relate to the incredible experiences she’s had at the university.

"In my speech, I just go into all the way different ways that I fell in love with this school and how that may have matched with everyone else,” she said. “I want to express how this is definitely a university that does not treat you like a number and will not treat you like a number after you graduate."

Kezerian made several lifelong friendships throughout her time at the UO, whether they’re from her freshman year living in Carson Hall, her fellow Pi Beta Phi sorority sisters or friends she’s made as a student ambassador for the university. One of her favorite memories is cheering the Ducks to victory the Rose Bowl last year with family and friends.

In her address to the audience, Kezerian wants to emphasize the tightly-knit community and general optimistic spirit of the UO that made her college experience so genuinely positive. After a serious accident last August that left her in a wheelchair, Kezerian found nothing but strength and comfort from her professors and friends in the UO community.

"They responded to my accident the way a person I have known for years would have responded," she said. "It was really beautiful to see how they showed their care and helped out when one of their own was hurt."

The lasting relationships and solid academic background that Kezerian gained from the UO will help her as she transitions to a new phase in life after officially graduating this coming December — she hopes to work for Red Bull or Microsoft in a marketing capacity. But of course, she’ll never forget her time in Eugene.

"I just want everyone to know that you're not done with this school once you leave; this is a place that's going to be with you for the rest of your life," Kezerian said. "That saying, 'Once a Duck, always a Duck' is so true. In life after graduation, we are all heading to different places, but no matter how far away from the UO you go, I guarantee you'll meet someone who went here or who knows of the school and, because of that Duck culture, you've automatically found a friend.”

—By Nathaniel Brown, University Communications intern