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St. Bonaventure University

Maya Henderson of Orchard Park selected to serve as student speaker for SBU Class of 2024

Apr 25, 2024

Maya HendersonMaya Henderson knows that her graduating class is special — historical, even — which is why she is proud to serve as the student speaker for the Class of 2024 at St. Bonaventure University’s Commencement Exercises on May 12.

Like her 360 fellow graduates, Henderson ended high school and began college during the scariest and most isolating moments of the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a group, they shared the burden of mask mandates and social distancing but experienced few of the fun first-year moments normal for college life.

“Freshman year was very hard,” said Henderson, a native of Orchard Park, New York. “But while we might have begun our undergraduate careers six feet apart, we are ending this time together side by side. I am so proud of how far we have all come.”

In her address, Henderson, a Political Science major with Spanish, Law & Society and Philosophy, Law and Politics minors, will talk about the journey of growth she and her classmates experienced at St. Bonaventure. 

“There are so many incredible opportunities here,” she said. “I feel blessed. All the different chances for leadership roles and my friends that I have met along the way, all of it pushed me to be confident and become a better role model.”

Henderson, an honors degree recipient, has contributed widely to the campus. She is a four-year member of the Mock Trial club, currently serving as president; a three-year member of the Student Government Association, previously serving as associate justice and now serving as executive board treasurer; a 3-year member of SBU Cheerleading, presently serving as captain; and has taken on the position of Student Ambassador for the Office of Admissions this year. Her committee membership includes the Academic Affairs and Franciscan Mission Faculty Senate committees, Budgeting and Membership Student Government committees and the Presidential Sustainability Task Force. 

Henderson is also an active volunteer, both in academics and athletics, co-writing a mock trial case for pre-law students and volunteering with Special Olympics and Women in Sports efforts. She was recently awarded the Maureen Shanahan Memorial Scholarship for outstanding students. 

Though she arrived on campus as reserved and shying away from the spotlight, she has since learned to move beyond her comfort zone. Studying abroad in Spain and Portugal, along with her work within the campus community, further helped her realize the importance of embracing the potential within each moment.

Henderson said she has learned that “even when something scares you, do it anyway.” Four years ago, she could never imagine speaking to a large group of people. Now she is looking forward to speaking to the thousands who will soon fill the Reilly Center. 

“I’m so grateful for this opportunity,” she said. 

Following graduation, Henderson plans to attend law school, with a focus on public interest and environmental law. 

St. Bonaventure University’s 164th Commencement Exercises will be held at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 12, on campus. The ceremony will be livestreamed. For more information about Commencement events, visit