Speakers prep for graduation

By Julia DeCook Web Editor

SDSU’s 127th annual commencement will take place on Saturday, May 4.

The speakers for the undergraduate ceremony will be Kathleen Norris and Ty Littau. This will be the second year that SDSU will have an undergraduate speak at commencement.

“It’s good to have a student speaking to the students because they can easily relate to them,” said Heather Costello, SDSU’s academic events coordinator.

The selection process for commencement speakers is simple. The provost’s office receives recommendations and sends letters to the possible speakers, and then they are chosen (depending on their availability).

Norris is an award-winning poet and best-selling author of “The Cloister Walk,” “Dakota,” and “Amazing Grace.” All three books have been on the New York Time’s bestseller list.

Though she lives in Hawaii, Norris is originally from Lemmon, South Dakota. She has published seven books of poetry and was married to poet David Dwyer for 25 years until his death in 2003.

Although she was awarded an honorary doctorate in letters and literature in 2001, Norris has never officially received the honor. She will be awarded the honorary doctorate with the doctorate hood as part of her garb at this year’s commencement.


“It’s kind of nice because it’s kind of like a ‘coming home’ for both of our speakers,” Costello said. “Either they received their degrees from SDSU or they lived in South Dakota for a long time. It’s really exciting.” 

The student speaker, Ty Littau, is an agricultural business major from Carter, S.D. Littau is known around campus for his work as an admissions ambassador and for his participation in UPC events as well as the Hobo Day Committee.

“It’s one of the highest honors I have had the opportunity to have,” Littau said.

Littau’s plans after graduation involve working in Carlito, Argentina for a year with a ranching family.

The speaker for the Graduate School commencement will be Shaw Akula. Akula received his PhD in Microbiology from SDSU’s vet science department in 1999. A veterinarian, Akula was born in India and his research expertise is in virology, cell cancer and cell biology.

The Graduate School commencement will begin at 2:30 p.m.

The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 10 a.m., but the procession of students will begin at 9:20 a.m. Family and friends are encouraged to arrive early to the ceremony, and there will be overflow seating available in The Union Market.

Graduating seniors need to arrive in the Wellness Center at 8:15 a.m. in order to prepare for procession and seating.

A professional photographer will be available during commencement to take photographs of graduating students with their diplomas. The photographer will take each student’s name and permanent address and will contact the student one week after commencement.