Roxanne Roman Speaks at All University Commencement

Class of 2017 student Roxanne Roman speaks at the All University Commencement ceremony in New York City's Yankee Stadium.

“I will never forget how much of an impression she made, and I definitely knew at that moment that I was seeing a future leader,” said Political Science Professor Almaz Zelleke about seeing senior Roxanne Roman speak at the Class of 2018 Convocation in Aug. 2014.

Despite having Roman in class for the first time this semester for the social sciences major capstone seminar, Zelleke was approached by Dean Charlene Visconti to write a recommendation letter nominating Roman to speak at the All University Commencement at Yankee Stadium May 17. 

At this ceremony, graduates from all schools from NYU New York are present, in comparison to the individual graduation ceremonies each college has. This year, Roxanne Roman will be the sole student speaker representing all NYU graduates.

According to Roman, each school is allowed to nominate one student. From this pool, the selection committee notifies finalists, who then go through an interview process to determine the speaker.

At NYU Shanghai specifically, a group of leadership members, including Visconti, who co-wrote a recommendation letter for Roman with Dean John Robertson, discussed who to nominate from the senior class.

“We all agreed on Roxanne,” said Visconti. “She’s a very compelling speaker, she writes a wonderful speech, and she’s very comfortable doing it, and we thought she would be great.”

Though extremely qualified for the position, the news that she had been selected was still quite a surprise.

“When I found out that I was going to be speaking at Yankee Stadium, I couldn’t believe it,” said Roman. “I was in complete shock, it was really unexpected, [but] of course it’s a huge honor.”

This honor is especially impressive because of Roman being selected from the inaugural class at NYU Shanghai. NYU Shanghai’s sister school in the global network, NYU Abu Dhabi, has not yet had a student selected for this position.

“I think this will put NYU Shanghai on the map for NYU students as a permanent school,” said Zelleke. “It’s a great testament, not only to [Roman] as an individual but NYU Shanghai, that it has been awarded this honor in its first year with a graduating class.”

Visconti also echoed this sentiment, noting that while Roman earned the position through her own hard work, the publicity NYU Shanghai will naturally receive because of it is good for the school.

“They choose the best person, but the fact that it was us, that makes people pay attention,” said Visconti. “It opens everyone’s eyes to us a little bit more, and… good publicity is good.”

Roman will also have the honor of being the student speaker at the NYU Shanghai commencement ceremony on May 28.

“The Yankee Stadium graduation comes with a lot of responsibility and a lot of living up to the global network university [and] the ideals of NYU, but it’s also something that’s not as personal to me as the NYU Shanghai graduation,” said Roman of her roles in both ceremonies. “I’ll be speaking to a very large and prominent audience in New York, but here I’ll be speaking to my family… [which] actually comes with a lot more nerves and dedication and desire to make our ceremony extra special.”

Roman certainly has been very involved with NYU Shanghai in her time here. She not only served as the second Class President but is also currently working as a resident assistant (RA) at the Jinqiao dorms as well as having been involved in many other aspects of the school.

Through her RA duties is how Roman met sophomore and fellow RA Sangjin Lee.

“[Roman is] charismatic, inspirational, and caring,” said Lee. “[She] never fails to surprise you with her charms.”

After graduation, Roman will leave Shanghai and travel to Beijing for a yearlong Master’s program through the Schwarzman Scholarship.

“I have learned so much from NYU Shanghai and I have also gained so much from the people and my experiences here,” Roman said about her upcoming graduation. “I’m sad that [my] time [at NYU Shanghai] is coming to an end, but I think I’ve grown to the point where it’s time to move on and use what I’ve learned here to do other great things.”

Roman was joined by seniors Kevin Pham and Zhang Zhan at the May 17 Yankee Stadium commencement. Pham served as NYU Shanghai’s banner bearer while Zhan served as the school representative.

Watch Roman’s speech at Yankee Stadium here.

This article was written by Catt Kim. Please send an email to to get in touch.
Photo Credit: New York University

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