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ASU fall commencement marks start of next chapter

ASU to award more than 7,000 degrees in fall 2016 commencement.
December 9, 2016

University will award more than 7,000 degrees; law school to mark first convocation in new Beus Center for Law and Society

Arizona State University’s fall commencement will be a mix of new and old this week.

ASU is awarding about 5,200 undergraduate and 1,800 graduate degrees in several ceremonies. The main undergraduate commencement is Monday at Wells Fargo Arena.

Among the new ceremonies is the first commencement of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law to be held in the new Beus Center for Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus. The six-floor building opened in August.

The Beus Center for Law and Society opened in August.

“We can’t think of a better way to demonstrate, very tangibly, the impact of connecting law and society as we usher the next generation of lawyers as well as students who have mastered legal principles to employers in our downtown community and across the country,” said Douglas J. Sylvester, dean of the law school, whose students donate more than 100,000 hours of pro bono work collectively.

The convocation for the law school’s 74 graduates will be held Wednesday, and will recognize Devin Jacob Garza for more than 170 hours of pro bono work with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Among the oldest traditions will be the Parade of International Flags at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, which became part of ASU in 2015 after nearly 50 years as a private graduate school. In that ceremony, which dates to 1977, graduates carry the flags of their home countries during the convocation, which will be held Wednesday at the Glendale campus.

ASU welcomes a diverse student population, and several events are scheduled to recognize them, including American Indians, Asian and Asian Pacific Americans, black and African, Hispanic, veterans and international students. Click here for the complete schedule. Visit here for the list of events at individual colleges and schools.

While commencement wraps up years of hard work at ASU, for some students, it’ll be their first time on campus. ASU Online is awarding about 550 undergraduate degrees, including more than 200 enrolled in the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, and about 740 graduate degrees.

One of the graduates is Devon Probol, who completed her bachelor’s degree in history, with a minor in religious studies, in two and half years while posted in Australia for the U.S. Department of State. She worked as a security assistant for the U.S. embassy in Canberra.

Probol, who is attending commencement events, got her first look at the Tempe campus last week.

“I was shocked at how beautiful it is,” she said. “I called my mom and said ‘It’s is so weird that this is my alma mater, but the first time I’m seeing it is my graduation.”

Probol said the ASU Online program was clear and logical and allowed her to take a full load of classes while working full time.

“It made a lot more sense to me, personally. I really enjoyed that everything was laid out. There was no room to misunderstand what is expected of you,” she said.

Thousands of graduates will go into the workforce well prepared by their education at ASU, which was ranked ninth in the nation for graduate employability by the Global University Employability Survey 2016. Many students are able to study across disciplines at ASU.

Electrical engineering major Ngoni Mugwisi, who is from Zimbabwe and won a Rhodes Scholarship, was one of them.

“This opportunity to cross between disciplines, whether in engineering, entrepeneurship, and all the collaboration efforts I’ve found here at ASU, they’ve been really inspiring. It’s an enabling environment to be the best anyone can do.”

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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Fall commencement 2016: Student profiles

December 8, 2016

A look at some of the standout students from ASU's fall 2016 graduates.

Check back as we will be adding more throughout commencement week.

student in graduation cap and gown flashing pitchfork

'Some of the best stories that have been told are true'

For as long as journalism major Cassidy Trowbridge can remember, she’s enjoyed telling stories. A few years ago, she realized "that some of the best stories that have ever been told are true stories. I enjoy telling those stories, too.”

student sitting in lab

ASU senior exemplifies transdisciplinary research

"Transdisciplinary" means applying one field of knowledge to another, and it defines graduating senior Kate Spencer's research at ASU. Spencer is graduating with a major in biochemistry and a minor in anthropology — although her field was chosen through a happy accident.

student standing in front of West campus gates

'My dedication and persistence will pay off'

Sandra Vazquez Salas is preparing to stand up in front of a crowd of hundreds on Fletcher Lawn at ASU's West campus to deliver a speech as the Outstanding Undergraduate Speaker for the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

man standing on Thunderbird campus

Thunderbird grad sees opportunity in Cuba

A few months ago, David Roman spent days walking the streets of Havana, connecting to his past and also seeing opportunity in the formerly closed off Cuban capital. Roman will carry the Cuban flag as part of the traditional Parade of Flags at the Thunderbird School of Global Management convocation.

woman sitting on bench

The joy – and necessity – of critical reading

English student Sheilah Cummings has rediscovered a dormant intellectual curiosity — and love for literature — that she hopes now to share with others. She wants to help students see literature as way for identifying and critiquing the larger culture.

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It started with a rock that was 2 billion years old 

For Ryan Burke, it all began with a nearly 2 billion-year-old rock. “It represented a quarter of the time of all the matter in the universe,” he said. “It was tangible, and I thought that was amazing.” Burke has been awarded the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medal. 

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Advocacy through storytelling

Gary Walker-Roberts says he no longer feels overwhelmed when facing a technological challenge. In fact, he has applied his new digital skills to an online LGBTQ public awareness campaign that he launched as part of his final applied project.

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Late start didn't stop student from finding her passion

Lisa Lacouette’s first attended ASU in 1985, intent on becoming an elementary teacher. However, she found college didn’t suit her and she left for other pursuits. Thirty-one years later, she’s graduating with an engineering degree.

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Guitarist finds inspiration in father 

Graduate student Fábio Bartoloni was inspired by his father — a concert performer and a guitar professor at São Paulo State University in Brazil — to forge his own path in the arts.

Leslie Weir

ASU student finds inspiration in archives

Full-time graduate study in English had long been Leslie Weir’s dream before she entered ASU’s master's online program. Weir discovered a love of archival work while developing original research for her applied project in the program, from which she will graduate this fall.

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ASU student moves toward ‘relentless forward motion’

Extreme athlete Paulette Stevenson is completing one of her toughest personal challenges to date: earning her doctorate. Stevenson will graduate this fall from ASU’s writing, rhetorics and literacies program and with a certificate in gender studies.

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Taking off on a career in aviation

Joshua Grzywa used to jump out of planes as part of his work during his 15 years in the U.S. Army Infantry. Now he flies them. One conversation with an ASU Professional Flight program student at an aviation fair changed his relationship with flight.

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Online history student graduates from Down Under

Devon Probol has made an impression at Arizona State University's School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, despite being almost 8,000 miles away in Canberra, Australia. Probol will be receiving the Dean's Medal at commencement ceremonies this winter. 

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Enthusiasm for weather, aviation launches career

Kenneth Brown was always interested in weather, and by high school, had identified meteorology as his chosen area of study. A conversation about the role of meteorology in aviation added aerospace engineering to his educational plans. Now he's graduating with two degrees from ASU.

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 Student wants to make the world a better place

Thanks to the development experience she gained in the Peace Corps and a solid foundation of knowledge from ASU’s GTD program, Anna Laird says she feels prepared to pursue a career in international development work and seek innovative solutions to problems. 

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Letters and Cultures student wins Liberal Arts Dean’s Medal

Glenn Maur worked with professors at the School of International Letters and Cultures to research the impact Alexander the Great had on literature in multiple cultures, multiple languages and over 1000 years.

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ASU grad excited for a life of investigation

Fernanda Silva Celaya, an ASU pre-dental graduating senior from Mexico, is exuberant about her new-found confidence as a scientist and researcher.

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Starbucks manager grows support network as ASU online student

Madison Bales lives and works full-time in Northern California, but this week she's graduating summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a degree in technical communication.

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Persistence leads graduating ASU vet to Fortune 500 Company

Justin Arispe is resilient. Despite being rejected time and again, the U.S. Navy veteran and graduating Arizona State University student pushed forward and landed a software engineer job with one of the most respected insurance companies in the nation, USAA.

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Strong drive earns graduating veteran ESPN spot

Saying that ASU graduate student Cory Kamerschak is driven is an understatement. The sports journalism major graduates with a Master of Arts degree and soon after will relocate to ESPN headquarters in Connecticut to start his new job.

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ASU grad finds success with new study habits

When School of Life Sciences assistant professor Heather Bean first started her lab, student Darin Ellison seized the chance to get in on the ground floor. His tenacity paid off. Ellison learned to present his research in front of others and to use his critical thinking skills.

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Father of 3 discovers smooth sailing in the chaos

Whether taking care of his family or working toward his degree, ASU School of Life Sciences graduate Justin Wolter learned to deal with the unexpected.

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ASU grad earns doctorate after 4 decades away

Forty-one years after receiving her bachelor's degree Mary Drago has earned her doctorate. Going back to school took some adjusting, but she adapted to the new environment and managed to earn her degree with good grades, all while balancing a full-time time job.

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Engineering grad hopes to help the nation's soldiers

Love led Carly Thalman to engineering. “I love problem solving and I love a good challenge, and I enjoy being creative and bringing my ideas to life,” said the ASU engineering graduate. “Engineering is the perfect combination of all those things.”

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ASU grad honed engineering skills in hacking, coding competitions

An introduction in high school to the wonders of information technology was all the motivation John James “JJ” Robertson needed to major in computer science in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

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Construction major builds on career

Army veteran Darrell Stanley knew that he wouldn't always be able to rely on his body for a steady paycheck, so after nearly 20 years of blue collar work he earned a bachelor’s in construction management. The 42-year-old member of the Navajo Nation didn't stop there, however, and this week he graduates with a master's in construction management.

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'Anything is possible' with passion and a clear goal

ASU psychology and pre-med major Kylie Forbes battles through chronic illness to pursue her dream of helping others.

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'No child arrives at school a student,' ASU grad finds

Lauren Orme was raised on an Arizona cattle ranch so remote, there’s no town on the mailing address. Her mother is an alumna of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU, and Orme chose education, too.

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Math grad excels in research

Many students at ASU are involved in research, even as an undergraduates. But how many students have worked on research projects with six different professors and hope to have four manuscripts published before entering grad school? Shane Lubold is one of those students. 

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Outstanding grad student honored for commitment to community, people

Dominic Santiago Luna says that the greatest lesson his parents taught him was to be successful and then share. He was recognized for this effort with the Ed Pastor Outstanding Graduate Student Award at the Hispanic convocation.