Meet the 2021 Seniors: Zoe Coleman, Mechanical Engineering
Congrats on the honor of speaking to the graduating class! What was the process like for the competition and how did you feel when you were selected?
Thank you so much! The process was pretty straightforward. Any student that wanted to apply just had to submit a video explaining why they would be a good candidate. From there, the students of our class had the opportunity to review the videos and choose who they wanted as their speaker. When I was selected I was very excited but also a little nervous. This is such a huge honor and I want to make sure I make everyone proud! I’m definitely going to give it my all, though, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity.
Give us a preview of your speech. What’s it going to be on? What was your writing process like?
I only found out three days ago, so I would say that I’m still in the drafting stage and trying to organize my ideas. I know that my main focuses are going to be inclusivity and celebration. We’re such a diverse and hardy class and I really want to give credit to all the challenges we have overcome during our time here. At the same time, graduation is an amazing accomplishment so I’m also excited to rally everyone around the celebration of this incredible journey. I’m definitely a planner at heart, so I expect to go through quite a few drafts before I finally settle on something I’m satisfied with.
As you were preparing your speech, what did you reflect on, and how did your time here shape your speech?
The biggest thing that keeps coming back to me is my community that I’ve found at UConn. This includes the large ones like my major and my sorority, but also just the comfort of seeing a familiar face on campus, even if I didn’t know their name. I also keep reminiscing on all the times I felt most connected to the student body here. UConn has given me beautiful experiences that have helped define the woman I am today. I’ve grown so much in my time here, and I think it’s natural that the drivers of this growth will contribute to the themes of my speech.
What does this honor mean to you? Have you ever given a speech like this?
It’s exactly that – an enormous honor! I feel grateful for the trust of my faculty and classmates and determined to represent them to the best of my abilities. When I was in 8th grade, I was top of my class and was given the opportunity to speak at our middle school graduation ceremony. Looking back, it was adorable and clearly much lower stakes than a college graduation. At the time, however, it felt like the most important thing in the world! Short answer, I haven’t ever given a speech like this before (there aren’t many speeches like this one) but I’ve certainly spoken in front of a few hundred people.
Now that you’re graduating, what will you look back on fondly the most?
I think that it’s all the little things that I’ll miss the most. My fondest memories are often fragments of an experience but they’re always so heartwarming. Deciding to neglect your homework for an afternoon because it’s too beautiful outside, catching up with an old friend you bumped into while walking to class, the commiserating glances you share with classmates after a particularly brutal midterm, there’s too many snapshots to name. These were the moments that defined my college experience.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I’m going to be moving all the way out to Arizona! I’ll be working as a manufacturing engineer for Raytheon Missiles & Defense. It’s going to be a big change but I’m ready for it. I’m also very excited to start my career and put my education into practice. Plus, I’ll definitely be back to visit all my CT friends and family as often as I can!