Devlin-Foltz selected as Commencement speaker

By Colleen Good

The student speaker for this year’s Commencement will be Zachary Devlin-Foltz ’08, a political science and economics double major, who is also one of Macalester’s two Watson Fellowship recipients this year.The senior speaker is chosen by a selection committee, comprised of two graduating seniors, two faculty members, the Dean of Students and the Dean of Academic Programs.

The requirements for becoming senior class speaker include strong academic performance and having made positive contributions to the Macalester community.

“I haven’t always been that vocal,” Devlin-Foltz said, pointing out that he had thought this would be a good opportunity to do so. Devlin-Foltz was involved in the debate team and theater in high school, and since coming to Macalester, has presented papers at several conferences. However, each time he advanced in the process, he felt “shocked,” he said.

“I’ve had a couple of interviews with you guys, and I don’t think you realize that I’m kind of boring,” Devlin-Foltz said. Despite his modesty, Devlin-Foltz has been an active and involved member of the community throughout his time at Macalester. He was a member of the baseball team his first three years at Macalester, and this year has been involved in volunteering and helping out two of his roommates, who run Maction!

Next year, Devlin-Foltz will start his one-year Watson fellowship, through which he will conduct research for his project entitled “”Tú no sirves!’ Sports Slang and the Meaning of Athletic Competition.” For the project, he will travel to Paraguay, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

Devin-Foltz said that if he could change one thing about his Macalester experience that he wishes that he had taken more classes outside of his majors. “I like my two majors,” he said. “But I don’t know if I like other things.”

The selection process began at the end of January, when an email was sent out to all graduating seniors and faculty asking for nominations for senior class speaker, with nominations due February 11. Shortly thereafter, the selection committee met to look over nominations. In addition, a list of students with GPAs of 3.8 or higher was considered.

Out of those lists, 18 seniors were invited to submit applications. Thirteen of those seniors were nominated by students or faculty, Ellen Guyer, dean of Academic Programs, said. The applications consisted of a resume that showed their participation in Macalester activities, and a letter, which stated what they planned to say in their speech and why they believed they should receive the honor.

After reviewing the applications, four students were invited to interview. All four students interviewed this year were nominated by their peers, Guyer said. After the two-month process, the committee selected Zack Devlin-Foltz to give the address, Guyer said.

This year’s selection committee was comprised of students Amanda Coen ’08 and Riyaz Gayzasaddin ’08, as well as Professors Adrienne Christiansen and Ray Rogers, Vice President for Student Affairs Laurie Hamre and Dean of Academic Programs Ellen Guyer.