Class of 2022 Student Commencement Speaker Wants to Celebrate RWU Community

“I know that my experiences at Roger have not always been the same as everyone else’s. I want to make sure that when I look out into the crowd that everyone feels heard and noticed for all the hard work they did these past four years,” says Jordan Peck, an Architecture major and assistant music director of the Hawkward a cappella group.

By Melanie Thibeault
A headshot of Jordan Peck

BRISTOL, R.I. – Community has been at the core of Jordan Peck’s college experience, so much so that the 2022 Student Commencement Speaker plans to highlight it in his remarks to his classmates during Friday’s ceremony.

“The relationships I’ve made are something I’m so grateful for, and I’m really going to miss,” said Peck ’22, an Architecture major and Sustainability Studies minor from Enfield, N.H. “I’ll miss the everyday things. Whether it’s meals in Commons, passing by someone on the way to the library, seeing people at an event, or walking through Bristol.”

Though the campus may be small, “there’s a big community that surrounds you,” he said. “That’s really, really special.”

During his time at RWU, Peck has been a member of the a cappella group Hawkward, serving as assistant music director his senior year, where he’s made amazing friends and found incredible support from both students and faculty, he said. In addition to singing, he plays guitar and plans to continue making music after graduation.

A member of the American Institute of Architecture Students and an orientation advisor, Peck also served as co-president of the Cedar Hall Council during his first year and was a resident assistant for Maple Hall his sophomore year.

In 2021, he was inducted into the Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society. As part of the Sustainability Capstone Class, he presented his contributions to strategic planning for sustainability on campus at the 2022 Student Academic Showcase and Honors

After deferring his acceptance into RWU’s Architecture master’s program until 2023, Peck plans to travel and gain cultural knowledge over the next year and hopes to learn more about community development and urban studies.

Though his college career was punctuated by the pandemic, when he’s on stage making his speech, Peck said he’s going to soak in seeing all his classmates’ faces.

“I’m going to really take in what’s in front of me. It’s going to be amazing,” he said. “It’s extremely rewarding to be with everybody.”  

Peck shared his thoughts on his time at RWU and his role as this year’s Student Commencement Speaker. 

How does it feel to be chosen as the Student Commencement Speaker?

I feel really honored to be chosen as the Student Commencement Speaker. I’m excited to speak on behalf of my class, but I’m also very humbled. I’m glad I get to be there with my class and experience something special with them being a part of the ceremony.

What made you want to apply for the role? 

Through the school, whether it’s clubs and organizations, advising, orientation, or being an RA, I’ve met so many amazing people who have helped me grow. I’m very proud of who I am, especially at the end of my four years of college. Looking back and seeing everyone who I’ve met, I’m honored and grateful to be able to share this with them. I wanted to apply because I want to give back to those who have helped me so much and supported me. If I haven’t expressed it enough already, I want people to know how grateful I am for their support and for giving me this time to grow and learn.  

What was your creative process for writing your speech?

I thought a lot about what I would want to see in the student commencement speaker. One thing I’ve always admired is a good balance between humor and sentiment, and I wanted to focus on that in my speech.

Another aspect was trying to be aware that it’s not about just me; I know that my experiences at Roger have not always been the same as everyone else’s. I wanted to take that into account and make the most inclusive speech that I could because I want to make sure that when I look out into the crowd that everyone feels heard and noticed for all the hard work they did these past four years. I really hope that I did that for everybody in my speech. I want to make sure that everyone has a part of the speech where they can say, ‘I did that’ or ‘I was a part of that’ and feel proud that they were acknowledged.

How did RWU help you grow? 

Coming from a very rural and not very diverse high school and going into a place that’s trying to educate and always trying to make their community more inclusive, I’ve learned so much about diversity and inclusion. That’s been really amazing to me. Especially being an RA and orientation advisor, you go through these courses, and you learn a lot about how to be a good person and how to go into the world and never stop educating yourself.

Going in, I didn’t know much about Architecture, but I knew I wanted to be creative and hands-on and design with a purpose. Even though I’m leaving with that same feeling, I have so much more that backs that up in more than just an architectural education. I really learned about the power of people and how important it is to be a lifelong learner. I’m very grateful for the education I’ve gotten at Roger Williams.

A lot has been from students as well. I’ve learned a huge chunk from faculty and staff, but I’ve also gotten firsthand experience being with the students and learning from them. That’s another reason why I’m very humbled and grateful to be the student commencement speaker because I want to make sure the students know: you got me here and I really want to thank you.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Try to step out of your comfort zone. Everyone is coming into college, not feeling super comfortable, living in a new place with new people. Take advantage of that. It’s OK to make mistakes. You’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone in order to feel comfortable. You’ll get to meet other people who have the same passion and drive.

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