PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — While many universities invite household names — prominent politicians, entertainers, writers or business leaders — to speak at their graduation ceremonies, Brown’s longstanding tradition has been to feature graduates themselves as the primary voices at Commencement.
At the University’s 249th Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 28, this year’s senior orators — Adriel Barrios-Anderson of Houston, Texas, a neuroscience and science and society double-concentrator, and Viet Nguyen of Mountain View, Calif., an education concentrator — will deliver speeches that reflect on the experiences that have defined their Brown careers.
“Our speakers have powerful, moving stories to share with the Commencement audience,” said Zachary Sng, a professor of German studies and comparative literature who chaired a Commencement Speakers Committee comprising students, faculty and staff. “Their stories draw from intensely personal reflections on their time at Brown, but they also reach out to comment on questions that many of us grapple with as Brown faculty, parents and alumni.”
Both students boast résumés that suggest a dizzying pace of life at the University.
Barrios-Anderson plays first violin in the 5Y Quintet, supports underrepresented students in STEM fields as a coordinator of the New Scientist Collective and is a member of research labs focused on pediatrics, psychiatry and human behavior. He is enrolled in the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), which means next year he will begin medical studies at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
Nguyen is president of the Undergraduate Council of Students (UCS), co-founded [email protected], is the executive director of 1vyG, an organization that strengthens the first-generation college student network, and has interned at both Google and the Clinton Foundation.
Despite the busyness that an accounting of their activities suggests, Barrios-Anderson and Nguyen have each chosen to speak on topics that require unhurried contemplation.