As students are pulling all-nighters in preparation for finals week, senior graduate student Lindsay Doolittle, of Granite City, Illinois, is preparing for something more. Doolittle was chosen to give the commencement speech for the Graduate School at 6:30 p.m. on May 10 in the Vadalabene Center.
Doolittle is receiving a Master of Arts in English with a specialization in teaching of writing. She also currently teaches high school English in the Hazelwood school district. Doolittle said that although she has considered getting her PhD one day, right now she is happy where she is at.
For Doolittle, being chosen as a speaker was very important to her.
“It made me feel like my experience was very valued and that they felt that my message was something important—that it was something that all the students and the attendees of the ceremony would benefit from,” Doolittle said.
Doolittle’s speech centers on the inspiration behind learning and her experiences with continuing her education.
“I’m focusing more on education being a lifelong thing and that it’s not something you just stop once you receive a degree,” Doolittle said.
Doolittle’s topic of inspiration was motivated by her children. Doolittle has four young children, ages 4-13.
“They’ve been my inspiration to start school, to begin with in my undergraduate studies, then to become a teacher and now to be in graduate school,” Doolittle said.
Director of Graduate Education Jill Smucker, was involved in the process of finding the commencement speaker.
Emails were sent out to graduate students by the graduate school, asking for students interested in giving a speech at commencement to complete an application and send in a resume. According to Smucker, the applications were reviewed by herself and others in the school and they ultimately chose Doolittle to be the speaker.
“We selected Lindsay because she really had an inspirational story in both pursing her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at SIUE — she was a single mother. You could tell she embodied the spirit of a lifelong learner through what she says and what she does. Ultimately, we felt like her message would resonate with all of her peers, regardless of their background,” Smucker said.
Jill Anderson, Associate Professor and Program Director of Secondary English Education, was one of Doolittle’s professors during her undergraduate studies.
During the time that Anderson had Doolittle got to learn more about Doolittle and the person she is.
“She’s incredibly thoughtful and collaborative. She cares a lot about including students in the decision-making process,” Anderson said.
According to Anderson, Doolittle student taught at Alton Middle School, where she brought technology to the classroom and even developed a unit that included technology to help the school build their curriculum.
Anderson, who has kept in touch with Doolittle even after her undergraduate years, is proud to see Doolittle giving the commencement speech.
“She represents the best kind of student,” Anderson said. “She’s one of those flexible, smart speakers and thinkers who can work on her feet—which is a great characteristic of a high school English teacher.”