Senior Demetria Tipps introduced the guest speaker at her high school graduation four years ago. But at Sunday’s Commencement ceremony on the Ellipse, Tipps will have a chance to address her graduating peers – and the thousands of friends and family also in attendance.
Tipps is the first Commencement student speaker to be chosen from the School of Engineering and Applied Science in GW history. She said her passion for public speaking inspired her to try out for the opportunity to address graduates, friends and family at this year’s May 22 ceremony.
“I thought it would be something cool to do and decided to apply,” she said. “Now I get to talk about whatever I feel necessary involving my schooling here.”
University Marshal Jill Kasle said Tipps was one of six candidates, each chosen by his or her college, to present speeches in front of a three-judge administrator panel. Tipps was unanimously voted as this year’s student speaker in mid-April. Last year, two students – an undergraduate and graduate student – addressed the crowd for equal amounts of time.
“Demetria knocked all three of us out,” said Kasle, who as marshal oversees the University’s large ceremonies. “Her presentation is wonderful, and her speaking style is lively and engaging. She connects with the audience well.”
The speaker applicants were evaluated based on different standards for each judge, but to Kasle the most important factors were the presentation and content of the speeches.
“Each candidate was distinguished in different dimensions. One had great content, another had a wonderful, earnest style of speaking, another used humor,” she said. “Demetria managed to blend all of it.”
Tipps, a native of Houston, said her speech will focus on the motivation, determination and integrity she prided herself on throughout her undergraduate years at GW. Tipps founded a chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers at the School Without Walls High School on G Street. She also played on the women’s basketball team and is a member of the Alpha Phi Omega community service fraternity.
Following graduation, Tipps said she will be moving to Southern California to work as an engineering consultant for NASA. She will also pursue a doctorate degree in engineering management at the University of Southern California.
Richard Soland, Tipps’ advisor and engineering professor for several courses, said she is well-qualified to speak at Commencement.
“She is academically above average,” he said. “She is solid, attentive, academically interested, pays attention and interacts.”
Soland, who helped Tipps balance her time between a demanding course load and frequent basketball practices, added that he is confident that Tipps will be successful in her future endeavors.
Tipps credited her hard work and dedication for her undergraduate successes.
“We have made it this far at one of the most demanding universities in the country,” she said.
“We are already prepared for the future,” Tipps added. “Whatever we do, we are going to succeed.”