Avery Hudson

Avery Hudson is this year's student commencement speaker. Courtesy/Avery Hudson

Avery Hudson loves people. She loves talking to them, being with others and building connections with people every day. However in all of her love for socializing, she never anticipated she would have the opportunity to talk to more than 300,000 people at once.

In the days leading up to graduation, Hudson is training to be a flight attendant for Delta, a job she thought would prevent her from being to walk with her class at graduation. That is, until she found out she had been chosen to give the commencement speech.

Hudson said she applied to be the commencement speaker after her friend Michael Trainer suggested she write a commencement speech as a way to reflect on her college experience, and he was the only friend who knew Hudson was applying.

“He said it would be a really good way to process my college experience and encouraged me to go through the process,” Hudson said. “I thought like I’m not even going to be here for graduation, my job won’t let me off work, but he still said it would be really good for me.”

Soon afterward, Hudson set to work writing a speech that her peers chose to be the words of encouragement before they graduate in Sanford Stadium on May 5.

Hudson said she drew inspiration for her speech from times throughout college, from her dedication to Young Life, working at the Visitor’s Center, to being an Orientation Leader. While she doesn’t want to give away her speech, she said her theme came from the students she met as an Orientation Leader.

“Right now I’m doing my ‘big girl’ job, and I have experienced the fear of inadequacy, what if I don’t find the right friends, what if my dream job isn’t what I thought it’d be,” Hudson said. “All of those are really relevant when entering the freshman year of life.”

Of the many people Hudson befriended at the University of Georgia, accounting Professor Jennifer Gaver is someone Hudson described in a text as her “accounting professor slash bestie woman.”

“Avery is one of the most joyful people I have ever met, and is one my favorite people I’ve ever taught,” Gaver said. “My life has been immeasurably blessed and improved with the light that is Avery Hudson. She’s going to work for Delta, and she is going to light up the sky.”

Gaver said her relationship with Avery goes beyond student-teacher, and even invited her to her birthday party last fall.

“I had a wise-woman party for my birthday and just invited all of my coolest friends, and I invited Avery,” Gaver said. “There were people of all ages, but I was like who has the presence and light and vibration that I want to be around me on a very important day to me and I thought I have to have Avery.”

Hudson’s friend and commencement speaker from last year Karishma Sriram said she met Hudson at a retreat for the upcoming Dawg Camp, and has been asking to hear a “sneak peak” of her speech.

“She’s been keeping her lips sealed,” Sriram said. “It’s going to be a great speech regardless because she’s connected to so many people, and how many people she’s touched at UGA. She’s the one of the most genuine people, down-to-earth, lively people. The way she just enjoys life is inspiring.”

Sriram said Hudson’s speech is also special to their friendship as it will be something they both get a chance to experience.

“I think of Avery as like my sister and it’s really awesome to see her on the same path as I was, it’s like a family reunion,” Sriram said.

After driving to and from Athens for practice, as well as for graduation, Hudson said she feels she will have championed functioning without sleep after graduation.

“Thursday morning I’m going to get up at 6 a.m., as soon as I get off I’m going to drive Athens for a sound check, come right back, sleep for a few hours, wake up at 6 a.m., go through an entire day of training then drive to graduate,” Hudson said. “Thankfully Delta is so accommodating and scheduled me for the earliest training.”

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