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Crow exhorts new graduates to look to future with optimism: 'We're here to create wondrous things'


Man in cap and gown waving to family during ASU commencement

Information technology major Michael Jugador waves to his family during Undergraduate Commencement at Mountain America Stadium in Tempe on Dec. 11. Photo by Samantha Chow/Arizona State University

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December 11, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2023 year in review.

Thousands of new Arizona State University graduates were urged to be “soldiers for the future” as they celebrated at their degree ceremonies on Monday.

ASU President Michael Crow gave that message at the graduate commencement at Desert Financial Arena on Monday morning and at the undergraduate ceremony at Mountain America Stadium in the afternoon.

Overall, more than 11,000 ASU students graduated this fall, about two-thirds undergraduates and the rest earning graduate degrees. Of the total, nearly 1,500 are international students, an 11% increase over last fall, and over 4,600 are Arizona residents. About 5,800 of the new degree holders took classes through ASU Online, including nearly 1,000 graduates of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

MORE: Meet some of ASU's notable fall 2023 grads

At the undergraduate commencement, Crow told the graduates that their families and friends are counting on them.

“They want you to go out and to do better than what has been done up to this point,” he said.

“We're here to understand the past, to learn from the past. We're here to enable human advances. We're here to create wondrous things.”

Crow told the graduates to think of the achievements of their ancestors.

“Think about all of the generations that came before you, all the sacrifices, everything that's been done to build this country and beyond this country to advance this planet,” he said.

“Think about all of these individuals that you've heard stories about — your great-grandparents, your great-great-grandparents, your great-great-great-grandparents — all the things that have happened, all the things that have been solved, and all the things that have been achieved and focus on that going forward.”

Crow said that many people are making a lot of money by sowing hatred and divisiveness on social media, but that the graduates should not buy into it.

“Hang out with people who are trying to design a better future. Find a way to make your life a part of all that, and we'll all be better off,” he said.

Fred DuVal, chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents, told the graduates that a college degree demonstrates their ability to question information and to search for the truth.

“The social media that pervades our lives, by design, reinforces things we already believe in rather than questioning them and broadening our perspectives,” he said.

“This place — higher education — is the antidote to these informational cul-de-sacs.”

At the graduate commencement, Crow gave the new advanced-degree holders a similar message: “You wouldn't be sitting here today if you didn't believe in the future and in all that it has to offer,” he said.

“You can't be discouraged. … You can't be beaten down.”

He exhorted them to counteract negative social media and news.

“Do something meaningful. Build something. And stop the idiocy.” 

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