College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Student Convocation Speaker Links Life and the Business Cycle


Amanda Kramer.At each convocation ceremony, sitting on stage with the faculty and dignitaries, cloaked in a graduation robe, sits a representative of the graduating class: the student convocation speaker.

The coveted spot always goes to a student that has succeeded expectations, someone who has been a role model, a strong leader, and a great student. At the December graduation, the honor goes to Amanda Kramer, a marketing major who is graduating after seven semesters at the U of I.

The process to select the convocation speaker is tough. Competing students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and solid leadership skills. Each applicant also prepares and delivers to a selection committee a five-minute speech that will also be given at graduation. This year, the topic of the speech is to relate graduating from college to some aspect of the business cycle.

Growing up in a single-parent household, much of Kramer’s early childhood Christmas gifts were donated by Goodwill and other charities. She used that as the inspiration for her convocation speech, relating the uncertainty graduates feel before entering the working world to the uncertainty donors have about the final destination of a contribution they make to a non-profit organization..

“I took the motivation for the speech from a play I acted in when I was a kid called ‘Hand-me-down Hilda,’” Kramer says. “For me, graduating in itself was a big accomplishment. I am the first in my family to do that.”

Kramer has made the most of her time at U of I. “I always knew I wanted to come here. The first time I visited, it just felt like home,” she says. In addition to numerous academic achievements, Kramer co-founded the first competitive cheerleading squad on campus. She also works two jobs –- in the Bailey scholarship office at the YMCA and as a marketing intern for the American Oil Chemist’s Society.

So what is the key to Kramer’s accomplishments? “One thing I think that sets me apart from everyone else is that I exude confidence,” she says. “I always know what I want and go after it, and I always follow my heart.”

After graduation, Kramer is heading for Chicago. After a strenuous 8-hour interview in New York City, she was offered a job with News America Marketing at their Chicago office. The move brings her closer to her family in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

“I’m excited and nervous, but in the end, no matter where I end up, I’ll know that it is all about experiencing and being able to live life to the fullest.”


–-Lianne Zhang

UIUC College of Business