Convocation speaker looks to prank Class of 2016


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Taylor Ellis-Sayegh may be scared of the dark, but she’s pretty fearless when it comes to other things.

“For my senior prank, my friends and I filled paper cups with water and dish soap and set them all through [a frequently used] hall,” Ellis-Sayegh said. “People were trying to get around them and kept knocking them over, and no one could get past, so they had to delay school for three hours. They didn’t know it was us, we were wearing masks so they cameras couldn’t see us and just acted like we didn’t know anything.”

Ellis-Sayegh is one of nine siblings, so pranks were a common occurrence in her house. Her pranks didn’t stop when she came to college.

“I like to make people laugh; I’m a big prankster,” she said. “I’ve been writing on people’s whiteboards and sending them to other people’s rooms to meet each other.”

Her engagement with other students is what spurred her to enter the competition for Class of 2016 Convocation speaker. Ellis-Sayegh was chosen as the speaker and gave a speech to the entire freshman class Sunday evening.

“My mom showed me the video of the guy speaking last year, and I thought, ‘Hey yeah I could do that,’ ” she said. “I’ve always been really into public speaking. I was on things like the debate team, Model UN. I didn’t realize until after how many people I would be speaking in front of.”

Ellis-Sayegh’s mother, Aimee Ellis, decided her daughter would make a good candidate for the Convocation speaker after seeing last year’s speaker on YouTube.

“When Taylor was in high school, whenever someone needed a speaker, they always chose Taylor,” Ellis said. “I think she did a wonderful job giving her speech. She’s just Taylor: that says it all.”

Taylor Ellis-Sayegh feels a strong connection to the graduating class of 2016 and says that is one of the main reasons she wants to speak at Convocation.

“I think our class all share similar goals; I mean we all picked Iowa for a reason,” Ellis-Sayegh said. “Come say hello. If you don’t find me I’ll find you, because that’s just how I roll.”

Anne Kapler, a committee member on the board to plan Convocation, said one of the main reasons Ellis-Sayegh was chosen as the speaker was because of her enthusiasm and connection to her fellow classmates.

“Taylor really had a great message about her generation and classmates, as well as a lot of enthusiasm for the university,” Kapler said. “We look at delivery, the message; we have a checklist that is similar to speech competitions. [Ellis] definitely met all the requirements.”

Now that Ellis-Sayegh’s speech is over, she hopes to join many student organizations to continue being involved at Iowa such as student government and attending sporting events.

“I’ve never really had a sports team to cheer for, so I’m excited about that,” Ellis-Sayegh said. “I want to look at all the organizations and clubs and just be involved.”

As for pranks?

“Definitely,” she said. “What is the full college experience without the pranks?”

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