fbpx Skip to main content

Student-Musician Delivers Address as Student Commencement Speaker

Benjamin Poovey addressed fellow graduates at the NC State Spring 2024 Commencement ceremony.

Ben Poovey poses for selfie with NC State's Spring 2024 Commencement attendees at PNC Arena
Ben Poovey poses for a selfie with NC State's Spring 2024 Commencement attendees at PNC Arena.

Where better for a performer to end their time as an undergraduate student than in front of an audience? Department of Performing Arts and Technology student-trombonist Benjamin (Ben) Poovey was selected to take to the stage and deliver the student address to his fellow graduates on May 4, 2024.

When asked about this opportunity and his time as an undergraduate student, he reflected on how far he’d come and how music contributed to where he is today.

“[Being the selected student commencement speaker] means more than anyone could imagine. I was rejected from NC State in the Spring of 2020, so to be here today is amazing. Never did I think that after being rejected, I would make the impact I have made here at NC State. Since middle school, music has been an enormous part of my life. To be selected as commencement speaker this Spring is a reflection of all the lessons I have been taught in music at NC State and previously.”

Benjamin Poovey performs in the Wind Ensemble Fall 2023 Holiday Concert.
Benjamin Poovey poses for a graduation photo.
Benjamin Poovey poses for a graduation photo.

Poovey graduated from NC State with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. As a student, he was often found in Price Music Center. Throughout his time as an undergraduate student, the student commencement speaker was involved in the Music Performance Minor, the Power Sound of the South Marching Band (serving as a section leader for the 2022 and 2023 seasons), the Wind Ensemble, the NC State Jazz Orchestra, Trombone Ensemble and the Tuba and Euphonium ensemble.

“Frankly, music was something that, historically, I was no good at,” recalled Poovey. “All throughout middle school and the first half of high school, I was always the last chair, just barely getting by. Junior year of high school, I realized how much I wanted to be better and haven’t looked back since. In my 11 years of music, this semester is actually the first semester I have been principal trombone, a feat that I never thought I could accomplish.”

Where you begin does not determine who you are.

Selected by a committee through an anonymous vote, the student commencement speaker is given the chance to inspire, engage with and share common experiences with their peers. Poovey’s unwavering determination was the focus of his speech and the driving message behind his call to action for the class of 2024. He encouraged his fellow classmates to think about “where you started, where you are now, and where you want to be” and reminded them that “where you begin does not determine who you are.”

Moving forward, Poovey plans to demonstrate even more of his perseverance as he attends NC State’s Institute for Advanced Analytics and continues his involvement in the Department of Performing Arts and Technology’s music ensembles.

“I use this same dedication in virtually every other aspect of my life, aiming to be the best performer, student, and person that I can be.”

You can watch Poovey’s full commencement address now.