U.S. Rep Aaron Schock is adding another item to his resume as the youngest keynote speaker at a Bradley graduation in the past 30 years, and likely the youngest ever.
“Hopefully I’ll add a different flavor to the … list of speakers in that obviously many of them are two to three times the age of the graduates,” the 27-year-old said. “So I’ve got a different perspective, and I’m looking forward to congratulating the students and challenging them on their goals.”
Schock was invited by University President Joanne Glasser because of his successful career.
“Congressman Schock was asked to be our commencement speaker partly because he is an alum and because he has become a national figure so early in his career,” she said. “I believe the congressman will be able to connect with students in a unique way that other speakers would not be able to. I believe that our graduates will be more engaged in what he has to say because he was on this campus just a few years ago.”
Because of his age, Schock speaks the language of graduates and will be able to offer relevant advice, Glasser said.
Senior business management and administration major Matt Skas said he thinks Schock is a good choice.
“He’s honestly like a young super star. I think that’s great,” he said. “It shows that he has a vision and he can help people who are graduating to have more ambition in these rough times.”
Schock said he is looking forward to addressing the graduates not only because he can offer a more relevant perspective, but because he wants to inspire the class.
“I want to encourage [graduates] to pursue their dreams, but at the same time keep their communities and country in mind and to … instill in them the importance of giving back,” he said.
Glasser said even though Schock’s presence at a Bradley event isn’t a rarity, students should still be excited.
“Bradley should embrace our alums who have left the Hilltop and gone on in their careers and lives to do great things,” she said. “Graduates like Aaron Schock are wonderful role models for our students, because they show that anything is possible. By his presence, Mr. Schock will demonstrate that Bradley graduates can have great success because of the education they receive.”
And Skas said Schock’s previous appearances on campus will likely make his speech even better because he has a concrete connection to campus.
A committee chaired by Interim Provost Robert Bolla is consulted in selecting the speaker each year.
Bradley chooses speakers based on their messages for graduates, ability to connect with graduates and their national prevalence, Assistant Vice President for Communication Shelley Epstein said.