Commencement Speech by Arcelia

GU class of 2020's commencement student speaker, Arcelia Martin, was called toward journalism due to her love for telling stories of the human experience. 

Anyone who knows Arcelia Martin knows how passionate she is about storytelling.

It’s only fitting then that Martin is this year’s student speaker for commencement, where she will get to share her story of her time at Gonzaga with the graduating class. Commencement for the class of 2020 will take place virtually on Sunday at 9 a.m.

Martin worked for The Gonzaga Bulletin all four of her years at GU and served as the editor-in-chief of the paper during her senior year. She was a member of Zag Volunteer Corps and enjoyed going on GU Outdoor trips as well. This fall, Martin started graduate school at Columbia School of Journalism.

“She’s a very outgoing, very friendly person. Like all good journalists, she’s very interested in people,” said John Kafentzis, Martin’s academic advisor, as well as one of the advisors of The Bulletin and a professor of journalism and public relations. “It was very easy to work with Arcelia because she’s open to new ideas. She asks a lot of questions.”

Martin’s fascination with people and their stories comes from an understanding of perspective, namely that none are the same. 

“A lot of the really valuable things I’ve learned out of GU are from stories,” Martin said. “It’s how we learn about each other and how we realize that there’s so many different ways to be a human and to experience life on this Earth.”

She also said how important it is for those who are still at GU to seek out stories unlike their own, which will help have a broader outlook on the world.

Martin mentioned how important this commencement speech is to her and described it as a love letter to her time at GU. Martin had anticipated giving her speech in person and in front of her friends, but she recorded her speech in light of COVID-19.

“Truthfully it was a little scarier saying it in front of a camera than in front of all these faces that I know,” Martin said.

After working with Angela Ruff, the academic events manager for GU, to help shape her ideas into her speech and practice the speech delivery, Martin filmed her speech in San Diego with the help of a film crew.

“I am thrilled we will all get to benefit from Arcelia’s grace and her attentive and generous heart, which I think comes through in her communication style,” Ruff said in an email. “For those who don’t already know Arcelia, they will get to meet her in this special way, and I hope they will be proud. She will share a heartfelt plea that I think will help everyone rise out of the stress of this year, and walk forward into the next phase of life knowing they are connected.”

As well as working with Ruff, Martin said that Joanne Shiosaki helped her workshop her speech. She especially wanted to make sure her speech honored both the people who make The Bulletin possible since it was such a major part of her time at GU, as well as honored what is currently going on in the world.

“I imagine if it’s typical Arcelia [her speech is] going to be inclusive, meaning that there’s going to be something for just about everybody there, because that’s the kind of person she is,” Kafentzis said. “She thinks in terms of the bigger community.”

As with many things she does, her expertise in journalism was a driving factor in her speech. 

“It’s really special to get to talk about journalism,” Martin said. “It’s such an act of service in this really humanistic way, and it combines justice and stories, and all the things that I’m so passionate about, so to be able to talk about it and have all these families from Gonzaga hear basically about The Bulletin and what that taught me is pretty special.”

Martin also said that what she is looking forward to most about speaking at commencement is for her mom to see it, who Martin said is her role model. 

“If it wasn’t for [my mom], there’s no way I would be at Gonzaga,” she said. “I was the most excited about her seeing it, because I was really excited for her to see that it paid off.”

Martin said how she is excited to share a moment of celebration before saying goodbye to her fellow classmates. Her friends were a large part of her time at GU, and it was important for her to be intentional with the time she spent with them.

“The more I learned about my friends the more I fell in love with them,” Martin said.

In addition, Martin said spending time getting to know your professors and faculty matters as well.

“I respect and owe so much to the Gonzaga community, so to be honored in this way, it just makes my heart all big and it feels hugged in a lot of ways,” Martin said.

Lillian Piel is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @Lil_Piel.

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