Graduation | Web Update

Student graduation speakers stand out among peers

Published: April 17, 2014, 8:06 pm ET
Collegian Reporter

The three students chosen to speak at this year’s graduation ceremonies have at least two things in common: they are members of multiple student organizations, and they identify as LGBTQ or allies.

Yazmeen Nunez will speak at the candlelight ceremony the evening before commencement. During this ceremony, the graduating class circles the Westhampton Lake, listens to the student speaker and watches a fireworks show.

“My speech is about stories, and making stories out of your memories of this place,” Nunez said.

Many of Nunez’s stories were born in her time spent with Residence Life, the Q-Community and Common Ground. Over the past four years, she has been actively involved in diversity and student development outreach.

Nunez will stay in Richmond after graduation. She plans to take some time off before enrolling in the community revitalization planning program at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Amanda Lineberry is the student speaker for the Baccalaureate ceremony, an interfaith service held in the Robins Center at 10 a.m. graduation day. Lineberry’s speech is not addressed toward a particular faith, she said.

“My speech is actually about maps. The rest you will have to come and hear for yourself!” she said.

Maps are a fitting topic for Lineberry, a Richmond native who has ventured all over the world during college. She studied abroad in Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam, and also went to South Korea with the Chaplaincy for a Buddhist-Christian pilgrimage last May.

Lineberry said she had made great friends through her involvement in different campus groups such as the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, Oliver Hill and Boatwright scholars and cultural advisors.

She also cherishes the “micro-communities” that develop within one-semester classes at Richmond including creative non-fiction, jazz and the beat generation and Richmond politics research workshop.

“I find it both beautiful and powerful that all three speakers for 2014 will be Lavender graduates – seniors who identify as LGBTQ or allies,” Lineberry said. “I hope it speaks to the unwavering commitment that our class has made to making this campus inclusive.”

Sunday afternoon at the commencement ceremony, Kelly Kurz will speak to graduating students, faculty and staff members and families and friends of the class of 2014.

“Every day, a friend of mine is receiving news of another paper published, another job offer or graduate school acceptance, another incredible opportunity granted,” Kurz said.

Kurz said he believed attending Richmond was unique because students genuinely enjoyed seeing their peers succeed in realizing their life goals.

It is unclear where Kurz finds time to participate in and lead so many campus organizations. He served as the chapter president of Alpha Phi Omega, the National Service Fraternity, and sang in Off the Cuff, the university’s youngest co-ed a cappella group.

He worked as a facility manager of the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness, a cultural advisor and an undergraduate admissions officer. He was a leader of Green UR, the Circle of Peace School and the Roosevelt Institute.

Kurz plans on working on an organic, sustainable agriculture farm outside of Washington, D.C., during the summer. He then plans to travel abroad and create digital stories of international development projects and organizations that work on issues of climate change and food scarcity.

In his commencement speech, Kurz said he would reflect on his experience at Richmond and the incredible people he had shared these moments with. He did not want to reveal more details of the speech since it is fewer than four minutes long.

Contact reporter Megan Haggerty at

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