Analysis of Bernard Harris Commencement Speech at WPI Graduation in 2015

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During the 2015 graduation ceremony at the Worcester Polytechnic University, Bernard Harris was accorded the task of delivering the commencement speech. The speech he gave was well organized, interesting and it carried a strong message to the graduates about to maneuver their way out there. The speech was filled with humor, and people laughed at the funny comments that Bernard gave along in the speech. Bernard reminds the graduates of how important they are and that everyone is proud of them, he says To the graduates of 2015, I will just simply say that Im very proud of you. I know that your parents are proud of you. The family thats here are proud of you and lets all of us give them a hand for this wonderful day (Harris, Bernard). By saying this, the speaker accomplishes aims at achieving his purpose of conveying the message by reminding them that it is because of that the congregation gathered to celebrate. The speaker then goes ahead and uses this quote You know, as I look out among you, it confirms a couple of things that I believe, and that is that there are no limits to human ingenuity or human achievement (Harris, Bernard). This quote builds on the message that the speaker wants to convey to the graduates of how people can achieve their dreams irrespective of the background. By using ethos, pathos, logos and repetition, Bernard effectively affects his audience with his speech to convey the message of infinite beings with infinite possibilities.

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Bernard uses the rhetorical strategies in her speech to communicate his message and relate to the audience. Ethos is one of the strategies that the speaker used. Since it is a rhetorical idea in a number of persuasive arguments that reputes the reliability of the speaker, it increases the usefulness of an argument. Bernard predominantly uses ethos to convince his onlookers by sharing his what he went through as a child and an astronaut in space. For instance, he says You already heard that I grew up on the Navajo Nation many years ago and I started out in Houston, Texas, in a very poor community. I came from a broken home (Harris, Bernard). This statement builds credibility by allowing the audience to relate where Bernards urge to inspire change and make people believe in themselves irrespective of their background. In a few sentences, Bernard continues that I discovered that I liked science and as youve heard in my introduction, you know that I like space science. You also know that I like Star Trek (Harris, Bernard). This statement opens the mind of the audience, and they can relate the poor background of the speaker with his achievements of being an astronaut and achieving his goal.

The usage of logos is also evident in the speech by Bernard. The speaker frequently uses logos throughout the speech and can draw logical connections between all the groups of people that had attended the graduation ceremony. One particular moment when Bernard uses logos to bring humor is when he says How about that? So I want you to repeat after me if you would. You ready? And just the graduates. The rest of you, you dont count. At least not today (Harris, Bernard). This statement makes the audience to laugh but at the same time stresses on how important the graduates are and the knowledge they have acquired in the long run at the journey of studying. Another important thing here is the command that the speaker uses to stress on his message of infinite beings with infinite possibilities by saying that Oh, God, is he going to ask me to do that again? Guess what? Im not only going to ask you to do that again, but Im going to ask all the graduates of 2015 to stand up (Harris, Bernard).

Bernard uses pathos in his speech to draw and share emotions with the graduates. He encourages them and shows them how important and unique everyone of is made. By doing this, it reduces the tension that most of the graduates have of life after college. As stated earlier, he shares his story, and this is an encouragement to the graduates as well which rather than making them emotional, it motivates them. He uses pathos to by telling the graduates to figure out what they want to do with the degree as the foundation to achieve their dreams.

Finally, repetition is an evident strategy operating within Bernards speech which adds to the effectiveness of delivering the message. In Bernards speech, he uses repetition in such a way that conveys awareness towards his message through a heightened sense of importance as well as building anticipation. Bernard repeats the phrase infinite being with infinite possibilities several times in his speech particularly in the end to recap and reinstate its importance in the success of all people (Harris, Bernard).

Bernard presents a speech that it well organized and utilizes the rhetorical strategies in conveying the message to the graduates and the audience at large. The speech is full of facts, humor as well as an emotion which are well used to realize an effective relation with the audience. Using his past examples and giving the story was one of the things that dominated the speech and it was important in delivering the message. To sum up, this speech was well organized and correctly utilized the requirements of rhetorical strategies.

Work Cited

Harris, Bernard. "Bernard Harris To Grads: You Are An Infinite Being With Infinite Possibilities". TIME.Com, 2015,

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