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Doritos gives a platform to seniors missing out on graduations

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PLANO — With high school commencement ceremonies across the nation cancelled, valedictorians, salutatorians and student bodies alike are missing out on one of the defining moments of graduation: the speech. The speech has become a lasting imprint for seniors, a voice for each graduating generation, and now thousands of students are losing their platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Doritos is announcing “Doritos Valedictorian,” a program designed to give a major platform to graduating seniors to have their voices heard by millions across the nation — considerable compared to the average high school class size of 500. And in a sense, Doritos is redefining who a valedictorian can be: someone who carries an incredibly strong message, and who represents the resilient spirit of their graduating class. Yes, GPA is important, but equally important is inspiring a generation of seniors to rise to the next level during this trying time.

Starting today, graduating seniors can submit a short version speech (2 minutes) for the chance to be heard by listeners nationwide via iHeartMedia’s podcast special Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020 available on iHeartRadio, alongside some of the boldest thought-leaders and cultural icons such as Katie Couric and John Legend. Five speakers will be selected, who will each also each receive $50,000 in tuition assistance.

“The class of 2020 is missing out on so many memories, of course the most notable of which is the entire graduation experience itself,” said Marissa Solis, SVP of marketing, Frito-Lay North America. “But even tucked within the graduation, we saw that the speech element was such a cultural moment for these seniors, and now they’re losing that voice. Doritos is a brand that’s long been about giving a platform and voice to that next generation, so we wanted to help take that platform to the next level.”

On May 15, ahead of National Graduation Day on May 17, Doritos will publish a compilation of the five speeches as part of iHeartMedia’s commencement podcast series, which also features cosmetics entrepreneur Bobbi Brown, comedian Chelsea Handler, restaurateur David Chang, and numerous artists including Halsey, Kesha, DJ Khaled, Pitbull and more.

Submissions are open starting at Noon CDT Friday, May 1, through 11:59 P.M. CDT on Monday, May 4. High school seniors can email submissions to [email protected]. Judging will be based on the overall impact and inspiration of the speech, how compelling and inclusive the story is, and authenticity and alignment to the overall theme. For full rules, visit

Doritos Valedictorian ties into Doritos’ overall efforts toward championing the next generation, brought to life in previous programs such as Crash the Super Bowl and Spark the Beat that have unlocked doors and help elevate careers. Doritos is applying that same mindset to high school graduations this summer with this program and its new overall partnership with iHeartMedia’s podcast special Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020.

Doritos and iHeartMedia’s goals are to broadcast podcast episodes from notable thought-leaders and icons in business, media, music, and sports intended to help prepare seniors for post-graduate life. The entire series of episodes will be published on May 15 in dedication to the resilience, strength, and accomplishments of the class of 2020.


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