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Popping the question -- at graduation

Jenna Johnson

How does a student commencement speaker make his or her speech truly memorable?

(Hint: It doesn't have anything to do with using more phrases like, "Go the distance!")

The easiest way: Pop the question to your college sweetheart. But realize that if you are turned down, you will forever be known as the graduation speaker who attempted the "I love you, Beth Cooper" routine and created memorable awkwardness for everyone in attendance.

Now, I have yet to hear of any graduation-speech-proposal failures, but here are a few that resulted in a yes. (Please prepare yourself to go, "Ahhh!" several times):

The Dueling GPAs Proposal in New Jersey
Centenary College senior Emily Hawley graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Her boyfriend of seven years, Josh Walker, had a 3.99. So, she got to give the valedictorian speech while he sat in the audience and listened.

At the end of Hawley's commencement speech, she called Walker on to the stage.

I'm sorry to be wasting everyone's time today doing this. But it's something I think that's kind of fitting. I like to consider us as Mr. and Mrs. Centenary. So here before you all, I just wanted to say, 'Josh, I love you more than everything. Will you marry me?'

He said yes. The couple kissed. Then they went on "The Early Show" to tell their story.

Walker said he was "thrilled" his girlfriend had popped the question: "As a guy, this is great; this is one less thing to plan!"


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The Star Wars Proposal in Vermont

At St. Michael's College in Burlington, graduate Jamie Gorton gave a graduation speech about the philosophy of Star Wars. Then he asked his girlfriend Rachael Roy to stand, according to a university You Tube video.

My love for you burns hotter than the two suns that orbit Darth Vader's whole planet. You are the most beautiful and interesting person I know. And together we can do it. I love you. I love all of you. And I pledge all of my love to you. In front of everyone you have ever met, will you marry me?

She gave him a thumbs up. He threw a "strawberry-flavored engagement ring" into the crowd and asked the Class of 2010 to crowd-surf it back to his fiancee.

Have there been other commencement proposals this year? Let me know the details in an e-mail, and I will add their story.

Follow Campus Overload all day, every day at http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. Check out our new Higher Education page, follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  |  May 18, 2010; 1:01 PM ET
Categories:  Real World  | Tags: Centenary College, St. Michael's College  
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