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

New ASU graduates encouraged to lift up their communities

‘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.

“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.

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 Plan — a record number.

Friends and families applaud the graduates at undergraduate commencement at Wells Fargo Arena on Dec. 12. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Left: ASU President Michael Crow and mace bearer Kathleen Puckett, associate professor of special education in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, lead faculty and regents into undergraduate commencement. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now. Right: Graduates listen to President Michael Crow as he addresses the newest Sun Devil alumni during undergraduate commencement. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Left: ASU President Michael Crow address attendees of undergraduate commencement at Wells Fargo Arena, Dec. 12. “You are responsible. There is no one else,” Crow told the graduating students. Right: Gonfalons representing various ASU schools and colleges stand at undergraduate commencement on Dec. 12. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now.
Left: Sandra Vazquez Salas is recognized as one of two outstanding graduates during undergraduate commencement. The New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences student overcame socioeconomic hardships to pursue career in medicine. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now. Middle: James Boulton is recognized as one of two outstanding students at the undergraduate commencement. He will soon begin Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training, the first ASU graduate to be part of the program in eight years. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now. Left: Interdisciplinary studies graduate Shemena Shivers pulls her tassel over as she officially graduates during undergraduate commencement. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now.
A Moeur Award recipient holds his diploma case at undergraduate commencement on Dec. 12. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now.
Left: Journalism graduates Amanda Alexander (left) and Jennifer Freel show off their mortar boards during undergraduate commencement. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now. Middle: Film student Scott Goldfein watches the balloons drop after undergraduate commencement on Dec. 12. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now. Right: Master’s of arts graduate Chase Miller shows off her mortarboard before graduate commencement at Wells Fargo Arena on Dec. 12. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now.
Theater graduate Matthew Saraficio jumps up for a family photo after undergraduate commencement. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now.
Left: Alyshia Gonzalez (right) takes a selfie with her aunt and a cardboard cutout her family made of herself, following undergraduate commencement. Gonzalez is the first in her family to earn a college degree. She graduated from the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now. Middle: Nursing graduate and Marine John Winchester embraces his wife, Shelley Winchester, after undergraduate commencement. Photos by Deanna Dent/ASU Now. Right: Rakan Janbi, material science engineering major (left), finds his name on a T-shirt with his brother Rayan Janbi before undergraduate commencement at Wells Fargo Arena on Monday morning, Dec. 12. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Left: Doctoral recipient Katie Kunze laughs with friends before commencement on Monday afternoon. Right: Aaron Bae, who earned his doctorate in history, shakes hands with ASU President Michael Crow during graduate commencement. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Left: Doctoral recipient Holly Orourke is hooded during graduate commencement. Middle: Master’s graduates cheer before the start of graduate commencement. About 1,800 graduate degrees were awarded this fall. Master’s in engineering graduate Elizabeth Besenyei blows kisses to her family before graduate commencement. Photos by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Outstanding graduate Maureen Keaveny waves to family and friends as she exits the tunnel after graduate commencement. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Left: Master’s graduate Michael Bockarie hugs his waiting family after the commencement ceremony. Middle: Graduates pose for photographs together after graduate commencement on Monday afternoon. Right: Master’s graduate Michael Bockarie hugs his waiting family after the commencement ceremony. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now.

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.

Originally published at asunow.asu.edu on December 12, 2016.

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Official Medium account of ASU. № 1 in innovation. Top 10 of all universities worldwide for U.S. patents awarded. Find more ASU news at https://news.asu.edu/.