As thousands of Arizona State University graduates celebrated with balloons and fireworks at their degree ceremonies on Monday, they were urged to remain positive in the face of negativity and divisiveness.
ASU President Michael Crow gave that message at the graduate commencement at Desert Financial Arena on Monday morning and at the undergraduate ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium in the afternoon.
“The rate and scale of positive change in all things is up,” he said, citing the new Marriage Equality Act, scientific breakthroughs in fusion energy and the global push to preserve Ukrainian democracy in the face of Russian aggression.
“We are leaving the Stone Age of our species,” he said, thanks to advancements in technology and the fight for social justice.
“… Because of the opening of our hearts and minds to other people and our willing acceptance of people different than us, the outcome of the world — if we stay focused and you all work hard — is going to be something we’ve never seen before. It will be unbelievable social progress and unbelievable economic progress.
“Here’s my message: Start realizing that all that negative energy you feel out there is you being manipulated by somebody else, usually for a profit and usually for some reason that isn’t wholesome,” he said.
“Start realizing that the world is making progress and is moving forward in better ways and that you have this unique opportunity to take your one life and your new empowerment by your graduation from this institution and to make it matter.”
Namig Abbasov tosses his cap in the air in front of the large #ASUGRAD sign before ASU Graduate Commencement on Dec. 12 outside of Desert Financial Arena on the Tempe campus. The Azerbaijani native earned his PhD in political science.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Laura Phillips makes final adjustments to her cap before Graduate Commencement outside Desert Financial Arena. She teaches at Alhambra High School and earned her MED in principalship.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Outstanding graduates carry their schools' gonfalons during the procession at Graduate Commencement at Deseart Financial Arena. More than 3,500 students received graduate degrees this fall.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Left to right: Outstanding graduates Melvin Gatewood, MS in electrical engineering, Mario Liddell, MS in business analytics, and Brenda Mora-Castillo, PhD in transborder studies, listen to President Michael Crow speak at Graduate Commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Katreena Thomas (right) hugs her mentor, Assistant Professor Brooke Coley, after receiving her doctoral hood for engineering education systems and design.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Aubrie Munson's service dog, River, shows off some graduation spirit during ASU Graduate Commencement. Munson received a master's degree in psychology.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
From left to right: Marla Kasper, Holly Vogt and Jonathan Roll reach for balloons following ASU Graduate Commencement. Kasper and Vogt earned Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership degrees and Roll earned a Master of Science in technology policy.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Fred DuVal, chairman-elect of the Arizona Board of Regents, also addressed both commencement ceremonies, telling the graduates that they persevered as the “class of COVID.”
“COVID tested your resolve, tested your adaptability and forced you to examine your choices and your responsibilities for others,” he said.
DuVal said that ASU gave them a healthy community during the pandemic.
“You acquired knowledge, learned how to discern facts. You engaged in respectful debate. You built trust in data, trust in science and trust in one another,” he said.
“As you take your place in our state and nation as educated citizens and as future community leaders, your skills in community-building will be tested and essential. We need you.”
Overall, more than 11,000 ASU students graduated this fall, including nearly 6,000 ASU Online students. About two-thirds of the total were undergraduates and the rest were graduates.
More than 2,000 students earned engineering degrees, representing a 36% increase from fall 2021. Boosting the number of engineers is critical to national security, helping to contribute to the New Economy Initiative and adding to the future workforce driven by the CHIPS and Science Act, which will distribute $52 billion to accelerate U.S. semiconductor manufacturing.
Tizha Mei Sarmiento, who received a nursing degree, and Mark Jason Quijano, a third-year IT student, pose with an oversized photo of Sarmiento before the ASU Undergraduate Commencement on Monday, Dec. 12, in front of Sun Devil Stadium on the Tempe campus.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Kylie Ruud, who recieved degrees in both communications and digital audiences, shows off her "clapboard" mortarboard at ASU Undergraduate Commencement. She is one of three siblings who graduated in the ceremony.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Aniyah Jones (right), a fashion design major, takes a selfie with Faith Pullen, a criminology major, at the start of ASU Undergraduate Commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Arizona Board of Regents member Fred DuVal welcomes graduates to ASU Undergraduate Commencement on Dec. 12 at Sun Devil Stadium.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
ASU President Michael Crow speaks to graduates, their families, friends and faculty at Undergraduate Commencement on Dec. 12, held at Sun Devil Stadium.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Fourteen-year-old Paityn Ruud (right) stands with other Moeur Award winners as their academic performances are honored at ASU Undergraduate Commencement. Ruud earned her degree in mass communications and media studies, and graduated alongside two of her siblings this fall.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Kirsten Dorman (center), a journalism and mass communication major, joins other graduates from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication being recognized at ASU Undergraduate Commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Jocelin Ramirez, a communications major and first-generation student, and Maycie Madsen, a forensic science major, move their tassels from right to left to signify their graduation during ASU Undergraduate Commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Kaylissa Piper poses for a family photo with her mother, Sandra Piper, following ASU Undergraduate Commencement. The Piper family is from Goodyear, Arizona. Kaylissa graduated with a degree in medical studies and is applying to medical schools.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
ASU President Michael Crow poses with new graduates (from left) Nick Johnson, a finance and business data analytics major, Matthew Griffin, a computer science major, and Moeur Award-winner Jake Zevitz, a biomedical sciences major, following ASU Undergraduate Commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
First-generation graduate and Marine Corps veteran Garrett Higa flashes the pitchfork following ASU Undergraduate Commencement. He earned a degree in technology, entrepreneurship and management.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Graduates and their families celebrate the occasion with photos near a large 2022 sign outside of Sun Devil Stadium following ASU Undergraduate Commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News
Top photo: Mary Babaya gives a congratulatory hug to her friend Florence Njoyi, who received her doctorate in behavioral health at ASU's Graduate Commencement on Monday, Dec. 12, at Desert Financial Arena on the Tempe campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News