The selection process for Senior Orations begins in the fall, when faculty nominate graduating seniors who they believe have exceptional promise. Nominated students are asked to write a critical reflection on their educational experiences. A panel of faculty reads these narratives and chooses the ten manuscripts they deem most powerful.

Faculty, Deans, representatives from the Administration, friends, family, and these ten students will gather together on campus on the first Wednesday in February for the Senior Colloquium, when all ten orations will be heard.  A separate faculty panel, present at the Colloquium, will choose the top three of the ten orations, including the overall winner. The three finalists will be recognized and the top orator will present their oration at Founders Day Convocation in February, as well as at the Honors and Awards Ceremony in May.

Congratulations to Participants of the 2024 Senior Colloquium!

Winners – Austin Torain, Christa Dutton, and Jae Canetti

Honorable Mentions – Jimena Elmufdi, Tahjanee Givens, Brianna High, Rachel Peterson, Claudia Rafa, Sofia Ramirez Pendroza, and Josephe Wyche

Video of the 2024 Senior Colloquium on February 7, 2024.

May 19, 2024– Winner presents at Honors & Awards Ceremony | 2024 Digital Program

Sept.16, 2024 – Faculty 1st call for student nominations (guidelines)

Nov. 4, 2024 – Deadline for Faculty to submit Student Nominations

Nov. 11, 2024 – Congratulations sent to Nominated Students

Jan. 8, 2025 – Student Submission Deadline (2025 Student Guidelines)

Feb. 5, 2025 Senior Colloquium. 2025 Event Livestream| Program

Feb. 20, 2025 – Winner presents at Founder’s Day Convocation

Past Winners and Events

YearWinner's NameTitle of OrationHonorable MentionsFull Colloquium Video
2024Austin TorainSurround Sound9 OrationsLink
2023Kaitlyn FoxThrough My Lens9 OrationsLink
2022Bea PearsonSeized at the Root9 OrationsLink
2021Julianne ZhuHeart of a Child9 OrationsLink
2020Celia ZhouLiving and Loving the Questions9 OrationsNot Available
2019Anna Grace GuercioDangerous Speech9 OrationsNot Available
2018Allison ThompsonLife Doesn’t Frighten Me9 OrationsNot Available
2017Cameron SilvergateI Hope You Dance9 OrationsNot Available
2016Aishwarya NagarThe Unexpected Chaos of Life as a Deac9 OrationsNot Available
2015Sarah VansickleWhat We Create in the Mind9 OrationsNot Available
2014Melvin Washington IIIWho Is Wake Forest9 OrationsNot Available
2013Xinxin ZhangThe Confessions of a Show Dog9 OrationsNot Available
2012Brandon TurnerEasy As Pi9 OrationsNot Available
2011Ava PetrashTo Understand the World…9 OrationsNot Available
2010Zahir RahmanWe Are Wake ForestNot Available

For full videos of the following events, please click: Founder’s Day Convocation and Commencement.

Did you present an oration at a past Colloquium event and don’t see it here? A project to collect past orations is underway – check back. Have a past oration to submit? Contact us and let us know!


In their book, Milestones – Defining Lists of Wake Forest Debate 1835-2022, Allen Louden and Jarrod Atchison describe, in detail, the history of Debate and Oration at Wake.

“Over a century and half, four primary settings dominated this influential Wake public voice. Faculty-required Senior Orations initially dominated, followed closely and often in tandem with Commencement Senior Orators. For multiple decades, before hosting responsibilities became too burdensome, public oratory was under the full purview of the literary societies.” “These special occasions were the featured intellectual and social events of the fall and spring season, inviting alumni and the State’s elite (as well as women from Meredith and Oxford) to the campus for oratories, debates, and celebration.”  If you would like to read more, including the full historical list of Orators and their speeches, the book is available from Library Partners Press, and can be seen in ZSR here.