Valedictorian 2019

At McMaster University, graduating students and supervisors have an opportunity to nominate PhD and Masters students – or students can nominate themselves – as Valedictorian during Autumn Convocation Ceremonies. The Valedictorian is a graduating student – graduate or undergraduate – who you think best represents the student community at McMaster! 

Three valedictorians – one for each convocation ceremony – will be chosen, based on high academic achievement, potential and demonstrated leadership (personal, academic, volunteerism), and communication skill.

Download the Nomination Package now » *The Nomination Package has the latest and most up-to-date information.

Important Dates

  • August 12, 2019  Nominations open
  • September 26, 2019, 4 p.m.  Deadline to submit nominations (Late nominations will not be accepted.)
  • October 15 – 17, 2019  Interview/presentation period for selected nominees
  • Friday, November 1, 2019  Valedictorians announced
  • November 21-22, 2019  Fall Convocation Ceremonies 

Questions? Contact the Graduate Student Life Team at

Eligibility & Criteria

  1. Open to all graduating full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students who are in good standing.
  2. One Valedictorian for each of the following convocation ceremonies will be selected:

Thursday, November 21, 2019 | 9:30 a.m.: Faculties of Business, Social Sciences and Humanities
Thursday, November 21, 2019 | 2:30 p.m.: Faculty of Health Sciences
Friday, November 22, 2019 | 9:30 a.m.: Faculties of Engineering and Science

  1. Valedictorians will speak at the convocation in which they graduate.
  2. The Valedictorian will write and deliver an address (no longer than 5 minutes) to fellow graduates, faculty, honoured guests, family and friends attending the convocation ceremony.
  3. Valedictorians will demonstrate high academic achievement, leadership and communication skills.

Eligible Nominators:

  • One undergraduate or graduate student graduating during the Fall 2019 convocation is eligible to nominate a fellow student graduating during the Fall 2018 convocation.
  • A faculty member that is the supervisor of an undergraduate or graduate student
  • Students are able to nominate themselves

Note: Students wishing to nominate a fellow student: Both the nominator and the nominee must be eligible to graduate in the same convocation session.

  • For example, both nominator and nominee will be convoking on the morning of November 22 for Business, Humanities and Social Science; on the afternoon on November 22 for Health Sciences; or the morning on November 23 for Engineering and Science.

Eligible Secondary Nominators: 

  • Two secondary nominators are required.
  • At least one secondary nominator must be a student who is eligible to graduate in the same convocation session as the nominee.
  • The other secondary nominator may be one of the following: Dean, Associate Dean, Chair, Chair/Director, Supervisors or Members of the Graduate Council or Members of Scholarship Selection Committees.

Note: Valedictorian Selection Committee members are not eligible to nominate students for Valedictorian

Selection Process

Selection Committees are comprised of both faculty and students from the following area of campus:

  • 2 to 4 Associate Deans (Graduate) or designates from the relevant set of Faculties;
  • 1 - 2 Members of the Graduate Student Association
  • MSU Vice President Education, or designate.

The Selection Committee will focus on the following three areas: 

High academic achievement is required. Academic achievement includes both performance in any undergraduate or graduate-level courses and evidence of potential and demonstrated excellence in research.

Potential and demonstrated leadership is defined according to the same criteria as those set out by the Tri-Councils, which includes, but is not limited to:

Personal achievement:

    • professional involvement in dance, arts, music, etc.;
    • significant artistic achievement;
    • recognized athletic achievement, especially in a leadership role;
    • entrepreneurial achievement (startup company); and/or
    • foreign travel and study.

Involvement in academic life:

    • mentoring/ teaching;
    • supervisory experience;
    • involvement in student government and in the university community, including committees, teams, Senate, boards, ethics committees, etc.;
    • project management;
    • roles in professional societies; and/or
    • organization of conferences and meetings.

Volunteerism / community outreach:

    • community involvement in charity or not-for-profit organizations;
    • civic engagement;
    • parliamentary page positions and internships;
    • political activity; and/or
    • elected positions.
  • Candidates selected from nominations based on Academic Achievement and Leadership will be invited to an interview with the appropriate selection committee. During this interview, nominees are required to present the speech they would give should they be selected as Valedictorian (speeches are to be no longer than a maximum of 5 minutes), and the committee may ask additional questions.
  • Interview period: October 15-17, 2019, in various locations.

Nomination Package Requirements

Nominees must include the following with their nomination:

  • Nomination Form (last page of the information package).
  • Maximum 2-page letter outlining why the nominee accepts the nomination or is nominating themselves for Valedictorian (written by the nominee). The letter should speak to the nominee’s academic achievements, leadership, and reason for wanting to be Valedictorian.
  • One copy of the nominee’s Curriculum Vitae.
  • Two letters of reference. Each letter should speak to the nominee’s academic achievements, leadership, communication ability, and appropriateness as Valedictorian. At least one letter must come from a faculty member; letters from members of the valedictorian selection committee will not be accepted

Candidates are advised not to include any other materials, as they will be removed from the nomination package. Students are not required to submit a copy of their transcript; Graduate Studies will verify the student’s academic standing.


  • Based on evaluation of the nomination packages, the Selection Committees will determine which nominees will be invited to interview and present their speech to the committee and nominees will be contacted by email with an invitation.
  • After the interview process, the successful candidate(s) will be contacted by email.
  • Those who were selected for an interview but were not selected as Valedictorian will receive an email message informing them of the committee's decision.
  • An email will be sent to the Valedictorian's nominator, as well as the Dean and Chair of the program/department from which the Valedictorian is graduating.