Kailiang “Kail” Fu ’23 and Margherita Micaletti-Hinojal ’23 will serve as senior orators at 2023 Commencement. Micaletti-Hinojal’s speech will discuss Brown’s reputation as the so-called “happy Ivy,” and Fu’s speech will focus on embracing failure.
The two senior orators were selected by the Commencement Speakers Selection Committee, wrote Lindsay Garcia, committee chair and assistant dean of the College for junior/senior studies, in an email to The Herald. The committee was composed of 10 members of the University community: Garcia, four undergraduate seniors and five faculty members across different departments, she added.
For Micaletti-Hinojal, the selection process was complicated by a semester abroad. She couldn’t originally submit her senior orator application because she was in Cuba last semester without internet access.
“I didn’t have Wi-Fi, so I didn’t know (that) this process was going on until I got back from Cuba and … realized the deadline had passed,” she said.
After communicating with Commencement organizers, Micaletti-Hinojal was allowed to apply past the deadline. She found out soon that she was chosen as a finalist. From there, she auditioned and was selected.
Her speech, titled “On Chasing (Or Choosing) Happiness,” examines why Brown holds a reputation as the happiest Ivy League school.
When deciding on a speech topic, Micaletti-Hinojal realized that “a lot of the lessons I had learned in college were … about how to maintain a happy life (with) purpose and ambitions.”
She also drew upon her experience growing up in a “European bubble” — coming from a Spanish mother, an Italian father and French schooling — in which happiness and balance were emphasized over work and productivity, she explained.
Fu’s speech is about building “fault tolerance,” a term in computer science that refers to when a computer system continues to function when one of its components fails.
Fu argues that features of the Open Curriculum and Brown’s culture provide students with crucial fault tolerance, or an ability to persevere following failure.
The ability to take any course with a Satisfactory/No Credit designation, Fu explained, means that students can learn something new without worrying about failing academically. His experience recruiting for jobs also included many failures, he noted. Those failures served as assets in future applications.
“What Brown gives us is fault tolerance,” Fu said. “If you fail, it doesn’t matter. You can try again. You have plenty of excellent opportunities on campus, (and) you have a group of people who embrace failures.”
Fu said he was inspired to become a senior orator by Jiuyang Bai PhD’22, who delivered a speech at the PhD commencement ceremony last year. Bai and Fu are both from Zhengzhou, a city in China, and Bai helped Fu prepare for his speech, Fu added.
Fu said he hopes that by serving as senior orator, he can be a role model to other Asian students at American schools.
“If I deliver that speech, maybe people can see me, and other students will be inspired to apply for similar opportunities,” he said.
For Micaletti-Hinojal, the speech is an opportunity to convey the experiences of her and peers who aren’t from the United States.
"It's exciting to make something that feels representative of my and so many of my peers' experiences, notably with the international community,” she said.
Plus, serving as senior orator will “make my parents proud,” she added. “And I think that's quite a universal child-of-immigrant experience."
Neil Mehta is a University News section editor and design chief at The Herald. They study public health and statistics at Brown. Outside the office, you can find Neil baking and playing Tetris.