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5 Questions: Local student to address Holy Cross senior class

Travis LaCouter, a senior at the College of the Holy Cross, has been selected to deliver the class of 2013 valedictory address at the College’s Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 24.

Travis LaCouter, a senior at the College of the Holy Cross, has been selected to deliver the class of 2013 valedictory address at the College’s Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 24.

Travis LaCouter – smooth, articulate, confident, has lots of experience at public speaking, with various presentations to the academic world under his belt after four years at College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

On Friday, though, the Bishop Brady High School graduate, a self-described political junkie, will address more people than he ever has before as the valedictorian speaker at the school’s commencement ceremony.

That means a speech in front of 700 graduating seniors, their families, plus the entire faculty. LaCouter estimates he’ll speak to more than 3,000 people.

LaCouter won a contest for the honor, one of 20 students, the top of the senior class,

who submitted a speech for review by a committee and the dean. Once he finishes his responsibilities in Worcester, LaCouter will head to Washington, D.C., where he will study political philosophy and American government by day, and visit with media commentators and policymakers by night.

What does your future look like? I want to pursue a Ph.D. and maybe do a theology degree, but I’d ultimately like to wind up in the think-tank public policy world, or at a university and be an academic. Also, writing or editing or being involved in campaigns on the side.

What’s your political platform? I’m a social conservative, and cultural issues are very important to me. College is a great time to learn from people, and some of my best professors are people who I don’t agree with, but I enjoy that dialogue and hold my beliefs more clearly.

What does your speech cover? I set out to make the anti-valedictorian valedictorian speech. I didn’t want to do this self-congratulatory idealistic thing. I’ll make a call for realism and reasonable expectations as we leave college, mindful of the struggles that have brought us to graduation day. It’s easy to look back and make it this rose-colored memory. I don’t think it’s constructive. That’s not reality.

How long is your speech? It’s 81∕2 minutes. It can’t be longer than 10.

Nervous? Everyone wants to know. I’ve given a few large academic presentations, so I have experience speaking to crowds. But this is so big that I’m sure when I get up there and look out and start, it’s going to be a little nerve-wracking, but I’m more excited than anything else.

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler @cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

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