Graduating senior to give commencement address

Kara McIntyre

Megan Piehler, mass communication senior and former student regent, attends the Board of Regents meeting held in the Board Room in Hardin Building on Nov. 12, 2015. Photo by Rachel Johnson

About 692 students adorned in caps and gowns will be walking the stage at Kay Yeager Coliseum at 10 a.m. on May 13 — except for one.

She will be on stage giving the commencement address.

Megan Piehler, mass communication senior, was chosen as the first student commencement speaker in MSU’s history.

“Dr. Shipley [university president] mentioned to the commencement committee that she wanted to incorporate students and the student perspective into graduation. Someone mentioned the Hardin Scholar would be a good representative of the student perspective, and the committee agreed that I would be a good fit, having already spoken as the keynote speaker at the 2015 President’s Excellence Circle Dinner and the 2016 Maroon and Gold Connection,” Piehler said.

After university officials released the announcement on April 25, Piehler said she was surprised and honored by the news.

“I was completely shocked to be chosen as the commencement speaker. You hear about CEOs, ambassadors and Nobel Peace Prize winners giving commencement speeches, so this is something I never even dreamt of having the opportunity to do during my lifetime,” Piehler said. “It is humbling to be giving the opportunity to speak to so many fellow graduates who are going to go on and change the world.”

She said she received a lot of support from family, friends and colleagues, especially on Facebook where the announcement was posted.

“The amount of support I’ve received has been overwhelming,” Piehler said. “So many people are proud of me and I haven’t even given the speech yet.”

Piehler earned the Clark Scholar award in 2015 and was named the Hardin Scholar in 2016, which are the two highest academic awards given by the university. She also served as the 2015-2016 student regent. She was a member of Student Government Association and the Redwine Honors Society Committee, and she served SGA as senator for the American Advertising Federation. She was named Outstanding Freshman Woman in 2014, Outstanding Junior Woman in 2015, Clark Scholar in 2015, Outstanding Senior Woman in 2016, Outstanding Honors Program Student Alumni Award in 2016, Woman of the Year in 2017 and Outstanding Mass Communication Student in 2017.

She is also a member of Alpha Chi National College Honor Society and Gamma Phi Beta sorority, where she was named Outstanding Scholar in 2014. She has presented at the National Model UN Conference in New York and the Great Plains Honors Conference in South Padre, Texas. She received a scholarship from the Advertising Education Foundation of Houston and American Advertising Federation-Houston.

Piehler said she is most looking forward to using this opportunity to encourage her peers and other graduation attendees.

“Because I was homeschooled, I’ve actually never been in an official commencement ceremony, but I certainly never envisioned myself speaking at graduation. I feel incredibly blessed and honored to be the first student commencement speaker, but I also feel a certain level of responsibility to make my graduating class and university proud. MSU has given me so many opportunities and has challenged me to grow in multiple ways,” Piehler said. “My experiences with MSU have equipped me with the confidence to change the world and this commencement speech is a surreal and exciting beginning.”