Talya Ozbelli headshot

Talya Ozbelli, a fourth-year studying communications with a concentration in media and a minor in journalism, will serve as the speaker at the second commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 15 at 9 a.m. In order to promote safety as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, NC State will host two separate ceremonies for graduating students. 

To become one of the commencement speakers, Ozbelli completed an application, wrote a speech and recorded herself giving the speech to submit for consideration. Ozbelli said her speech centered around the community at NC State and how it has grown stronger since the pandemic hit.

Ozbelli has never publicly given a speech she wrote herself, but she believes her experiences both as a Young Life counselor and a university ambassador, along with her knowledge from public speaking classes, will help her as commencement speaker.

“At NC State, I took a couple of public speaking courses, and I feel like those have prepared me to deliver a speech well, and I definitely remember some of the key elements, so hopefully that will help,” Ozbelli said.

Ozbelli is from Concord, North Carolina and said she knew she wanted to stay in state during her college application process, but it was not until she toured NC State’s campus that she decided to attend.

“I saw, first of all, how diverse campus was in terms of how many things to get involved in, as well as people from different cultures and ethnicities,” Ozbelli said. 

During the tour, Ozbelli, who is Turkish, said she knew she would feel welcome and included in the NC State community. Additionally, she said the noncompetitive nature of NC State helped her feel comfortable when first visiting campus.

“I really wasn’t considering NC State until I actually toured, and I was like ‘I can really see myself here’...it’s always a very collaborative environment, and I’ve had the best experience with my professors and my classmates and just being involved on campus as well,” Ozbelli said.

In addition to her involvement in Young Life and university ambassadors, Ozbelli worked at Technician. She also interned at undergraduate admissions, which she said helped her develop “soft skills” and “have an empathy factor.”

“Also, my social skills have been really impacted in a positive way because, obviously, I have to converse with people, especially if I’m in a leadership position,” Ozbelli said. “It’s given me a very holistic experience.”

Ozbelli said she is excited about the prospect of being a commencement speaker.

“I’m really honored that they picked me out of I don’t know how many people auditioned, but they gave me a chance and thought my speech was great,” Ozbelli said. “I still can’t wrap my head around it. It’s kind of surreal that I’m doing this and I’m addressing the class, but I can’t wait.”

In her speech, Ozbelli said she will highlight what makes the class of 2021 unique.

“I just feel like our class is super resilient because we are graduating in a pandemic, the job market is kind of struggling right now and we’re up against a lot of experienced people applying for entry-level jobs because COVID made them jobless,” Ozbelli said. “So I think we have a lot of grit and strength, and that really shined through this year.”

*Editor’s Note: Ozbelli is a correspondent at Technician.