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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Students react to Roger Federer being named 2024 commencement speaker

Students express positive reactions to Roger Federer being named 2024 commencement speaker.

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The College named Roger Federer its 2024 commencement speaker on March 28, prompting excitement and surprise from community members. On campus, tennis players on the women’s and men’s varsity teams — as well as members of club tennis —  reacted positively to Federer’s upcoming speech and visit to campus.

Logan Chang ’24, the only graduating member of the men’s varsity tennis team, said it was “incredible and mind boggling” that Federer will be speaking at his commencement.

“I’ve been a Federer fan since I started playing tennis at eight years old,” Chang said. “I think he represents so much of the elegance and gentlemanliness of the game. In his speech, I want to learn about his character and perhaps what has made him successful as an athlete.”

Women’s tennis player Caroline Lemcke ’27 said she is looking forward to Federer’s arrival on campus, describing Federer as “not only the best tennis player, but [also the] best athlete of all time.” 

Federer, who boasts 20 Grand Slam titles and two Olympic medals, spent 237 consecutive weeks as the top ranked men’s singles player in the world — a record that works out to more than four-and-a-half years.

“I’m super excited to hear about his experiences on the pro tour because it’s such a tough thing to do and hard to be successful,” Lemcke said. “In his speech, I want to know how he was able to become successful and achieve so many things, [to be] a great competitor and person.”

In addition to his legendary athletic career, Federer is a committed philanthropist. In 2003, he founded the Roger Federer Foundation, which invests in educational improvements for early learning projects in Southern Africa and Switzerland, according to the foundation’s website.   

“He inspires me because he is one of the few athletes that is not only a great competitor, but he is also gracious and a great role model for a lot of people,” Lemcke said. “I have tried to model his behavior on and off the court.”

According to the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Federer has been represented by TEAM8 — a sports agency headed by CEO Tony Godsick ’93 — since 2005. Godsick’s daughter, Isabella Godsick ’24, is a graduating senior and a member of the women’s lacrosse team.

Members of the broader Dartmouth community were also excited about the news. Men’s varsity rower Stephen Warming ’26 said he was “really excited to hear the announcement.”

“While I won’t be at graduation, I think the fact that a world-renowned athlete is coming to campus is amazing, and it really shows the incredible opportunities Dartmouth has,” Warming said.

Jaein Chung ’27 said she is not an avid sports fan but has grown excited about Federer’s upcoming visit thanks to the people around her.

“I personally don’t know a lot about sports, so I wasn’t aware of who Roger Federer was when they announced him to be this year’s commencement speaker,” Chung said. “But my friends were very excited about the news, and now that I know more about his career as a tennis player and philanthropist, I am excited too.”

Grace Farr ’24, who has been a fan of Federer “for a long time,” said she believes Federer’s athletic career will be able to provide “interesting” material for his speech.

“Originally I wasn’t excited about having an athlete, but I think in hindsight because of the nature of their careers, I realized that athletes have a lot to speak about,” Farr said.

Farr added that she hopes Federer’s commencement speech is “inspirational” and leaves her with “a final thought before I go into the real world.”

Other students have reacted to the Federer announcement with less enthusiasm. Two years ago, the College hosted another well-known athlete, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson, to speak at commencement.

“I think it’s cool to have a famous athlete coming to campus,” Clara Goulding ’25 said. “But I would like it if Dartmouth would have a wider variety of speakers with more perspectives, since another famous athlete gave the speech just two years ago.”

However, Goulding added that upon hearing the news, her family began to consider coming to Commencement — even though she will not be graduating.

“My mom is a really big Federer fan, and she is really thinking about coming to Commencement because of the news,” Goulding said. 

Other students, such as Alan Hatch ’25, said the announcement has also increased their interest in attending commencement.

“It’s been amazing to see how much excitement Federer has created on campus,” Hatch said. “It’s made me want to stay on campus for graduation even as a junior.”