Senior Sara Ray said she is grabbing her diploma, throwing her mortarboard in the air and heading to Macedonia on Sunday. But first, she has to speak to an estimated crowd of 20,000 on the National Mall.
Ray, one of two students selected to speak at Sunday's Commencement ceremony, is traveling to Macedonia for the Peace Corps immediately after graduation. She said she wants to dispel beliefs that her peers are indifferent to the world around them during her two-minute address.
"The goal of my speech is to speak to everyone, the parents and the grandparents and everyone that's coming down," Ray said. "One thing that applies mostly to parents and grandparents is that I feel like our generation is one that has been unfairly categorized as an apathetic and selfish generation."
Originally from Maine, Ray is a linguistic anthropology major graduating from the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences.
"I always just knew that I didn't want to graduate and just go into an office job," said Ray, a former State Department intern. "The Peace Corps is the best way to learn a language and get to know places of the world that a lot of people can't."
Ray decided to apply to be the student commencement speaker after receiving an e-mail advertisement from CCAS, but said she did think she would be chosen.
"It's one of those things that sounds like a lot of fun and something that everyone would want to do," she said. "I really didn't expect this."
She hopes her speech will inspire her peers to become more engaged in the issues that affect them.
"I want to really charge students to take time and act on all of the things that we've been talking about for four years," she said. "How many times have you heard people say that they know how to fix healthcare problems, and all these problems we're facing? What I want students to do is walk away with this feeling like they now can go and actually do it, rather than just talk about it." </p