Circling Back: The Journey of This Year's Student Commencement Speaker

Camila enjoying the Chapel's scenery.

It’s common to witness campus visitors stroll the quad and stare at the Chapel in awe ––- especially those whose children are interested in attending Duke. Graduating senior Camila Saavedra was once one of those young-aged tourists to gleam at the beautiful campus sites. While her parents brought her to campus as a rite of passage as a North Carolinian, they also set her on the first steps on her path to an exceptional journey at Duke University.

Camila at age three (3) in front of the Chapel.
Camila at age three (3) in front of the Chapel.

With graduation approaching this weekend, Saavedra has been in a state of blissful reflection about her Duke journey. Years of memories flood her mind –– from her time mentoring others as a Resident Assistant, to working as a student technician, to serving as president of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority –– all meaningful experiences that she will take with her as she moves toward her new experiences after graduation.

Saavedra will gift the department of psychology with her wit and humor as she renders a speech as the student speaker at this year’s psychology majors’ commencement ceremony.

A first-generation Colombian-American, Saavedra always knew Duke would one day become a place she'd call home. She has proudly served as co-chair of Latino Student Recruitment Weekend since her first year at Duke, as it was an event that she attended which influenced her decision to become a Blue Devil.

"I always knew I wanted to attend Duke, but my time at Latino Student Recruitment Weekend solidified my decision."

“The students made me feel so welcome and like family – even as a guest," Saavedra said.

Moreover, Durham is not far from her hometown of Charlotte, where her close-knit family resides.

Despite her active life as a campus leader, Saavedra has kept her value of education as the primary focus of her time. She completed the distinguished Philip R. Costanzo Teaching Fellowship and spent years as a research assistant in the Wilbourn Infant Lab. She’s also displayed her commitment to cultural education through her time as a graphic designer and social media coordinator at Duke’s Center for Multicultural Affairs.

“Education has always been important to me. My parents emphasized its importance from a young age and it’s something that I will continue to treasure.”

Saavedra will take a brief stint of time off after graduation to prepare for medical school where we know she will continue to do great things.

The psychology major diploma ceremony will take place Sunday, May 8, 2022 at 12 pm at
Duke Chapel.