Stanford Convocation student speaker selected

As the featured student speaker at Stanford’s 129th Opening Convocation Ceremony, Will Paisley will help welcome incoming students and their families and friends to the university community.

Senior Will Paisley has been selected to deliver the student address at Stanford’s 129th Opening Convocation Ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 18. He will represent the student body in formally welcoming new first-year students, transfer students and their families and friends to campus.

Will Paisley portait

Will Paisley, ’20, will deliver the student address at Stanford’s 129th Opening Convocation Ceremony. (Image credit: Courtesy Will Paisley)

Paisley said he understands the anxieties some students might be experiencing as they begin their Stanford life because he had them, too, when he arrived in 2016.

“I was incredibly anxious and scared. I wondered who I would find to be my community and what was awaiting me,” he said, adding that his speech will focus on encouraging new students to find their niche and build solidarity with their classmates.

“At Stanford you can find a community to be part of, to grow and to develop your character and sense of belonging,” he said.

Paisley, a double-major in Native American studies and sociology with a minor in Spanish, hails from Lake Tapps, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Both his parents are Native Americans; his maternal tribe is Navajo and his paternal tribe is Blackfeet. Paisley, who identifies as gender fluid, said that because his hometown is racially and culturally homogeneous, he often struggled to find people who shared his identity and experiences. But that all changed when he arrived on the Farm.

“At Stanford I was able to find people like myself,” he said. “It was honestly the first time I had experienced so much diversity along all lines of identity.”

At Stanford, he joined the fraternity Theta Delta Chi and became director of Stanford Student Enterprises Cardinal Group, which provides financial and asset management services to student organizations. He also became an active member of the Native American Cultural Center, where he has helped organize numerous events, including the popular springtime Stanford Powwow. He said the center has been his greatest support and strongest community at Stanford.

“Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today,” he said.

Paisley was among the recipients of the 2019 James W. Lyons Award, given each year to undergraduate and graduate students for their service to Stanford and the surrounding communities.

Convocation is the official opening of the school year and is the culmination of move-in day for new students. The event includes addresses from university administrators, including President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Rick Shaw, dean of admission and financial aid. Paisley will be the only student to speak at the event. He was selected from a pool of student applicants by a panel comprising administrators from throughout the university.

Convocation will be held on the Main Quadrangle at 4 p.m. and is open to the entire Stanford community. Details about the event and the student address are available on the Approaching Stanford site.