Schoonmaker to give student commencement speech

Undergraduate philosophy major, Information Technology web consultant, husband and father, Justin
Schoonmaker ’09 can now add commencement speaker to his list of credentials.

Schoonmaker, who took time off after graduating high school before enrolling at the College of William and
Mary, will deliver the student commencement speech at the College’s 2009 Commencement Ceremony. He is married to Angelica Schoonmaker ’07, and the couple has two young children. The family lives in one of the four Ludwell apartments reserved for students with children.

In addition to his studies, Schoonmaker works full-time for the College’s Information Technology department as a web consultant. He edits and manages all the images on the Arts and Sciences department’s webpages.

“Needless to say, my senior year has been jam-packed with a full undergrad course load, a full-time job, and my family life,” Schoonmaker said in an e-mail.

After graduation, Schoonmaker plans to continue working full-time for IT and pursue an MBA at the Mason School of Business.

Schoonmaker gave two reasons for wanting to give the speech.

“First, God has blessed me with the ability to communicate well in front of people,” Schoonmaker said. “I have done a lot of it before… I also applied to give the speech because I have a unique story that I have been told is quite inspiring.”

A selection committee including interim Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D ’06 and government professor Clay Clemens ’80 chooses the student commencement speakers. The process includes an application and two auditions. Those who apply are guaranteed an audition. Several finalists are then selected for the second audition, and give their speech in its entirety to the selection committee and a group of College seniors and graduate students. There were six finalists this year.

Schoonmaker received a call from Ambler at 9:30 p.m. the night of his second audition to inform him that he had been chosen to give the student commencement speech.

“I was and am really excited,” Schoonmaker said. “It’s something I really want to do.”
Schoonmaker is working with Clemens to edit the final version of his speech.

“I think on Commencement Day, graduates and their families want to hear something that captures their attention, inspires them, and elicits a laugh or two,” Schoonmaker said. “I was and am confident that my speech is versatile enough to fulfill all three of those desires.”

Commencement will take place at the College on May 17.


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