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It's College Graduation Season in the United States

I’m Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Education Report.

We started our Foreign Student Series on American higher education in September, at the start of the new school year. Now that year is ending, and so is our series. But not yet. We still have a few more subjects. For example, listener Zegeye Mulu in Ethiopia asks about graduation ceremonies.

May and June are the months when most American colleges and universities hold their commencements. These ceremonies are a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate a student’s completion of an academic degree.

Most ceremonies are traditional. The students wear caps and gowns over their clothing. One by one, their names are called. They go to the front, shake hands with school officials and receive a document of some kind.

But first they must they sit and listen to speeches. Colleges and universities often invite famous guests or former students who have become successful.

Schools often want speakers to comment on world events. This Saturday, for example, President Bush is to speak at the graduation ceremony at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Another speaker that day, at another school, is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. She will speak at the commencement at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

News people are often invited to speak at graduations. So are entertainers. Actor John Lithgow, a nineteen sixty-seven graduate of Harvard, will speak at the university on June ninth.

Then there are speakers like Jon Stewart. He entertains by making fun of the news. The popular program, "The Daily Show," appears on Comedy Central on cable television.

Last year, Jon Stewart spoke at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He graduated from there in nineteen eighty-four. He did offer some serious advice. He said: "College is something you complete. Life is something you experience. So don’t worry about your grade, or the results or success. Success is defined in myriad ways, and you will find it ... Love what you do. Get good at it."

Well, that is not all Jon Stewart said. You can find his full speech on the William and Mary Web site: And our Foreign Student Series is online at

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. I’m Gwen Outen.