On May 29, Saturday Night Live writer and comedian Colin Jost will come to Deerfield to speak at the 2016 Commencement ceremony. Each year, Deerfield invites a distinguished individual to address the graduating class.
Previous speakers have included former U.S. President George Bush; Henry Rodgin Cohen ’61, President of the Deerfield Board of Trustees and Senior Chairman of the law firm Sullivan and Cromwell; Martha Minnow, Dean of Harvard Law School; and Captain James A. Lovell, Jr. G’03, Commander of Apollo 13.
Mr. Jost has been on the cast of Saturday Night Live since 2005 and is currently a co-anchor, along with Michael Che of Weekend Update, the SNL sketch that parodies current events. Jost graduated from Harvard University in 2004; during his time there, he served as president of the Harvard Lampoon, a comedy publication.
He has been nominated for five Emmy awards and has won a Peabody award and three Writers Guild awards. Jost, who grew up on Staten Island, wrote the screenplay for and acted in the comedy film, Staten Island Summer.
Ms. Jenny Hammond, Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement, explained that the process of finding a commencement speaker “[is] complex because it involves the Head of School, school administrators, and sometimes even the Board of Trustees.” She also mentioned the importance of getting “input from the graduating class… sometimes a year in advance.”
Since last spring, Student Council Chair Claire Petrus ’16 has led the search for this year’s commencement speaker with guidance from Head of School, Dr. Margarita Curtis. Petrus explained that she “wanted someone to capture the essence” of the graduating seniors; she looked for a “fun and lighthearted” speaker because “[2016 is] a fun class.”
Due to his experience speaking in front of live audiences, Petrus felt he was an excellent choice for Commencement. “[Jost] knows what he needs to do to please an audience and make a memorable speech,” Petrus added.
Many seniors are looking forward to hearing Mr. Jost speak. Anne Trapp ’16 is excited to hear “someone who is both funny [and] able to make a point that will hopefully stay with the graduates.”
Camille Moeckel ’16 hopes Jost will capture “what a graduation really is: the sadness of leaving your Deerfield home behind and the happiness of moving on to a new experience.” She pointed out that Jost is a “very accomplished writer at just 33 years of age… [and] we will all be able to learn from him and his success.”
Dr. Curtis said, “I generally look for someone who can inspire young people in two ways–by how they have chosen to lead their lives… and by the kind of message they choose to emphasize on this important occasion… my hope is that every Commencement speaker encourages [the graduates] to lead worthy lives.”