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New ASU graduates encouraged to lift up their communities

New ASU graduates are told, "You are responsible. There is no one else."
December 12, 2016

'You are responsible,' degree-holders are told at fall 2016 commencement

Arizona State University's newest graduates were encouraged to lift up their communities as they find success with the degrees they received Monday.

ASU awarded about 5,200 bachelor’s degrees for the fall semester, with the undergraduate commencement Monday morning at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, and about 1,800 graduate degrees were awarded at the graduate commencement that afternoon.

ASU President Michael Crow told the students at the undergraduate ceremony that they are graduating “on the best day in the history of our country.”

“We’ve never been at a moment in history closer to the point where equality and liberty and justice are now much more than theoretical concepts. They are things we are actually pursuing with a vengeance — a positive vengeance,” Crow said.

But he warned the graduates that they face unique challenges.

“Every single person that is in our society has something to contribute, and we’re at a particularly hazardous moment right now where large numbers of people are feeling left behind,” he said.

“There’s a lot of resentment and a lot of anger and a lot of stress as a result of this.

“You as freshly minted college graduates have to think not only of your own success, or your family’s success, but also the broader community’s success in everything that you do,” he said.

“You must think more broadly than the small group you’re connected to.”

Crow said this is ASU’s final lesson: “You are responsible. There is no one else.”

After the undergraduate commencement on Monday morning, a number of convocations are planned for special-interest groups and ASU's individual colleges and schools. The fall 2016 semester includes 206 graduates from the Starbucks College Achievement PlanThe Starbucks College Achievement Plan, launched in 2014, offers full tuition reimbursement to employees who pursue an online degree through ASU. — a record number.

Several new graduates said their ASU education has prepared them well for their next step.

Sam Stefanski, who earned a degree in vocal performance, said he plans to teach in his own studio and to perform.

“I plan on bringing music to the next generation. I’m building my own program,” said Stefanski, who sang both the national anthem and ASU alma mater during the ceremony.

“ASU gave me the flexibility to work during my undergrad and to build my own clientele and students,” he said.

Brandon Kamentani earned a degree in pre-law and justice studies and will attend law school.

“Every class, every course I took made me completely confident in what I want to do and allowed me to figure out what I want my career in,” he said.

Top photo: Criminal justice student Alexis Cook cheers as she and other students receive their degrees during ASU's fall 2016 undergraduate commencement on Dec. 12. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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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