Competition winners to address the SEAS Class of 2022 at commencement

Two students standing back to back outside Davis Hall.

Adarsh Sivadas and Susan Paul are this year's Student Commencement Speaker Competition winners. Photo by Madison Dailey.

By Nicole Capozziello

Published May 18, 2022

At Alumni Arena this weekend, two members of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences graduating class will have the distinction of sending their fellow graduates off into the next chapter of their lives.

“UB has given me so much, both personally and professionally, and the least I can do to honor it is by speaking to other students and making them realize how proud they should be to say, ‘I went to UB.’ ”
Susan Paul, graduate ceremony student speaker
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

Susan Paul, a master’s student in civil engineering, will address her fellow graduate students on Friday, May 20 while Adarsh Sivadas, a computer science major, will speak at the undergraduate ceremony on Saturday, May 21.

Susan Paul

Susan Paul hails from White Plains, N.Y. She will be graduating with a Master of Science in civil engineering, concentrating in structural and earthquake engineering. As an undergraduate at UB, Paul was actively involved in the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, taking on leadership roles as secretary and then vice president.

“Having done both my undergraduate and graduate education here I felt like I can give a unique perspective on what it means to be a UB student, and I thought I can utilize that for being a graduate speaker,” says Paul. “When I first came in at 17 years old, I was confused, scared, but now as I am finishing up my master’s degree, I am still nervous about what the future has in store. But, if five years of engineering has taught me anything, it’s that we are always trying to figure out the unknowns and there are endless doors still waiting to open.”

Outside of school, Paul has had several internships both in the public and private consulting sectors, most recently as development services intern at Kimley-Horn. During her time as a graduate student, she also worked part-time as a structural engineering intern at Jacobs Engineering Group.

Paul says, “UB has given me so much, both personally and professionally, and the least I can do to honor it is by speaking to other students and making them realize how proud they should be to say, ‘I went to UB.’”

Adarsh Sivadas

Adarsh Sivadas, who hails from Delhi, India, will receive his Bachelor's of Science degree in computer science. He is the second member of his family to graduate from the University at Buffalo, following his brother Akshay (BS ‘17, mechanical). He has held internships at The Center for Industrial Excellence (TCIE) at UB and Linde PLC, and works as a student technician at UBIT Tech Squad and as a student ambassador at the Office of Academic Integrity.

“UB has been a big part of my family! When my brother graduated, he participated in the same competition but didn't win the final round. So I wanted to relive this dream for him and my family,” says Sivadas. “It means a great deal to be honored with this opportunity because it is one of the ways I can give back to this university. To have a platform where I can share my incredible experience here is absolutely surreal, and I hope to encapsulate all the good things about UB.”

After graduation, Sivadas will be joining Google in Austin, Texas, as a Cloud Technical Resident.

“UB serves as a quintessential reminder that the American dream is still alive. My immigrant story had its obstacles, but this university has given me opportunities that once looked improbable. From getting to present at the Annual International Center for Academic Integrity to building software applications for conglomerates deployed worldwide, UB has provided me with an empowering platform and set me up for success,” says Sivadas.

About the competition

The students earned first place in the Student Commencement Speaker Competition, an annual event run by Christine Human, associate dean for accreditation and student affairs. The event is organized into two competitions: one for graduate students and the other for undergraduate students.

“The competition is open to all students participating in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences commencement ceremony,” says Human. “This year, we had an outstanding pool of eight graduate and 13 undergraduate students.”

Out of the submissions, a select group of finalists is asked to deliver their three-minute speeches for the SEAS selection committee, comprised of faculty and staff. A panel of faculty and staff volunteers choose the winners, whose speeches are evaluated based on relevancy, appropriateness of content and delivery. In addition to presenting their speeches at commencement, the winners also receive a custom UB class ring.