shannon fuller

NC State’s fall 2021 commencement ceremony will feature remarks from Shannon Fuller, who is graduating with a bachelor's degree in leadership in the public sector.

To become a student speaker for the fall or spring graduation ceremonies, a student must fill out an application and submit a video audition. According to Fuller, she didn’t even plan on submitting her speech for commencement, she just began writing her speech for personal enjoyment and growth.

“I like to write, and I thought it was kind of an experiment, quite honestly,” Fuller said. “I thought it would be fun. So in my spare time, I just kind of started to write it. It's been quite a challenge to get to this point. It almost became like a therapy session.”

Though she didn’t think she would, Fuller ended up submitting her speech, and the board selected her unanimously. It will be the first time a student in leadership in the public sector will be speaking at commencement.

At commencement, Fuller will speak about her experiences and challenges in education. According to Fuller, she dropped out of high school when she was 15 and landed in the information technology industry.

“I am very thankful and blessed for [my career],” Fuller said. “I could have gone down a really different path. I plan to talk a little bit about that experience and sort of what I think it's given me, and that maybe not everyone's path is exactly straight or perfect.”

Fuller completed her bachelor’s degree while working full time for Cisco Systems. She plans on staying there after she graduates.

“I'm not getting a promotion, I'm not getting a different job,” Fuller said. “I'm not getting a pay increase. It was more of just a bucket list thing that I really always wanted to finish. The main reason we moved to North Carolina is to be able to afford to send our girls to college, so it seemed a little hypocritical for me not to finish.”

After graduating with her bachelor's degree, Fuller does not plan to go back to school.

“I think if I was younger, I would definitely go for a master’s, and I would probably do it in something like a nonprofit or something non-IT technology related,” Fuller said. “I need a break. I'm ready to have my weekends back and just sleep and watch Netflix.”

Her advice for current students is to keep pursuing their goals, even when life doesn’t go as anticipated.

“You fail at things, you lose confidence, whatever happens along the way, and just not to judge yourself over that,” Fuller said. “Try to use those experiences and make them work for you. If your path isn't straight, like mine, it's okay. You know, just get back on and keep moving.”