Get a graduation speaker who can best guide the graduating class. He or she not have to be the most accomplished today. Celebrities attract the crowd, but you must always consider that the speaker must add value to the occasion.
Your graduation speaker can be an alumni who is now a thought leader in innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, business, or anything that represents the future.
Somewhere I said that he commencement speaker does not have to know everything about the future (who does?), but he must be interested in it.
You can also get a drop out.
I have observed that many excellent commencement speakers were drop outs. They encouraged the graduates to follow their passion, to persist, to be creative, to take risks, and to keep their integrity intact.
Believe me, there are people out there in your community whom your graduates must listen. The embedded message is this:
The drop outs made it big. Those who finished college have greater opportunities. They must not be afraid because everything will be fine.
I am discouraging you from inviting politicians to deliver commencement speeches. Even though your candidates for commencement speakers are the most qualified and the most honest politician you know, people will always think that he is on that stage not to honor the graduates, but to honor himself. Do not place the burden on your speaker’s shoulders.
Do not invite a plunderer. You must stick to the values you’ve taught them.
It is best that you create a committee who will choose your commencement speaker. Encourage your committee members to consider the less known but highly capable speakers. When you set the criteria, indicate also that politicians will be the last to consider.