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Elmo to be UW–Madison’s Spring 2024 Commencement Speaker

Stage members take part in the tradition of “Jump Around”during the UW–Madison’s spring commencement ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on May 13, 2023. The outdoor graduation was attended by more than 7,500 bachelor’s, master’s and law degree candidates, plus their guests. (Photo by Taylor Wolfram / UW–Madison)

Move over, Bucky. A different furry mascot will be there to cheer on the spring class of 2024.  

The UW commencement planning committee has chosen Elmo, of Sesame Street fame, as this year’s keynote speaker. The decision follows a viral moment on the social media platform X after Elmo posted a message asking everyone how they were doing.  

The response was unexpectedly morose, with thousands of people replying with feelings of existential dread — a sentiment often shared by seniors at the UW, many of whom don’t know what postgrad life will bring.   

“When Elmo went viral on X, I realized he was the perfect choice for a keynote speaker,” says UW administrator Emma Liaher. “He’s cardinal red, caring, and full of optimism.” 

“Elmo is tickled to welcome the newest class of Badgers,” Elmo says. “Elmo thinks everyone has a bright future ahead of them.”  

To accommodate such a special guest, the commencement stage will have to undergo certain modifications. A large hole will be cut into the floor of the commencement platform to ensure that Elmo has access to the podium.   

To counterbalance Elmo’s exuberent outlook, Oscar the Grouch will provide a dose of pessimism. “I just want these Badgers to face reality,” he says. “It’s not all rainbows and butterflies out there. Sometimes life is just trash, trust me.” 

Other members of the Sesame Street crew will also make special visits to campus. Cookie Monster will provide catering services to celebrate the new grads, and Big Bird will serve as a commencement marshal. Accounting majors will have a chance to hear from Count von Count, Bert and Ernie will address human development and family studies grads, and Kermit the Frog will stop by the biology department, mainly to protest the use of frogs in dissection labs. 


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