By Sydney Sibelius ‘18
Each year, the Scripps senior class selects a fellow graduating student to speak at Commencement. The elected student is able to commemorate the past four years and the experiences had by the graduating class. This year, Olivia Buntaine ‘15 was selected to present her speech after being inspired by previous speakers.
“I had had a couple of friends in the past few years who had been commencement speaker,” Buntaine said. “I had always thought of it as a possibility, and I didn’t even expect it to work it out. Like at all.”
In creating her speech, Buntaine was compelled to provide a story that represents what happens behind the scenes of the beautiful Scripps campus.
“People don’t make room for how hard things can be and how interesting some of those struggles are and the ways in which things aren’t perfect all of the time,” Buntaine said. “That’s kind of what makes it beautiful, and that’s what I really wanted to provide a narrative on. Something that would challenge that aspect of perfection and our messy struggle of trying to figure out who we are and what we want from the world. That is really what’s beautiful about Scripps.”
In comparison to those of many other schools, the process to select a student speaker at Scripps is unique in that students are expected to submit their speech for their fellow classmates to read and then vote on. This is meant to ensure that the speech provides an accurate and truthful representation of the students. Buntaine, alongside her classmates, was inspired by her past four years at Scripps.
“It’s really interesting, because I think my speech talks about some of the harder stuff here, like doing sexual violence advocacy on campus, a little bit about Ferguson, a little bit about working for a trans admission policy, and some of the harder aspects of my time at Scripps,” Buntaine said, describing events that took place during her four years on campus. “And I wanted to find a way to not just brush away the pain that people go through in college to make it seem like it was the best four years of our lives, but to turn it into a positive transformational process.”
She addresses these harder aspects in a speech that fellow students have said is not like a typical graduation speech. While discussing the challenging process, she compares students’ four year journey at Scripps to the renowned beauty of the campus.
“It focuses on juxtaposing the aesthetic beauty of Scripps with a lot of the tumultuous struggle that students are going through,” Buntaine said. “ It’s about how beautiful and pristine our campus is and how it distracts from the intense building and pulling apart and the hard work that the students are doing.”
With commencement right around the corner, Buntaine is preparing to present her speech in front of her fellow students and other spectators.
“Am I nervous? Well, I’m a songwriter and actress, so that helps a little bit,” Buntaine said. “It’s just like a really big responsibility to feel like I am trying to articulate the experience of a bunch of people. I hope that I am, I don’t really know, but I hope I do everybody proud. That’s the goal. So that’s what I’m nervous about, if anything, I want people to feel like that represents their experience.”