Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz speaks at ASU Undergraduate Commencement on Monday evening at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

‘Summon your compassion,’ Howard Schultz urges ASU’s newest grads

Starbucks executive chairman tells Class of 2017 at Undergraduate Commencement that they give him hope for the future

May 8, 2017

A personal journey to a new kind of business

Throughout his remarks, Schultz shared personal details of growing up poor in Brooklyn with a father who had to work a series of “terrible blue-collar jobs,” and talked of his success as the CEO of Starbucks and his opportunity to build the kind of company his father never got to work at.

“Your generation can bring people together like no other,” he said. “You can innovate, create and lead.”

Change the status quo

In his address to the Class of 2017, Crow reminded graduates that their time at ASU was not designed to merely train them for a job.

Sarah Levesque, of Walnut Creek, California, proudly wears her mortarboard at the Starbucks Partner Forum recognizing the accomplishments of 330 graduating Starbucks partners (employees) on Monday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Left: ASU President Michael Crow addresses the Starbucks Partner Forum. Both Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz and Crow talked to the 800 people at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex gym in Tempe about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan and heard stories of overcoming adversity to earn an education. Right: Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz listens to a partner’s story of how Starbucks and ASU made a college education possible for him at the Starbucks Partner Forum. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Left: Aristotle Jefferson Aquinde gives ASU President Michael Crow one of the signed Starbucks College Achievement Plan stoles to show his appreciation for a college education at the Starbucks Partner Forum. Aquinde had many of the other College Achievement Plan scholars sign Starbucks stoles and gave one to Crow and Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now. Right: Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz gets a hug from Alyssa Fagan, of Jersey City, New Jersey, after she told him how Starbucks and ASU made a college education possible for her, at the Starbucks Partner Forum. Fagan took advantage of Starbucks College Achievement Plan and is receiving a bachelor’s in art history. Photo Courtesy
ASU President Michael Crow hands Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz his honorary ASU degree — doctor of humane letters — at a luncheon Monday at Old Main on the Tempe campus. Photo by Tim Trumble

A reason for hope

At Monday’s ceremony, Schultz alluded to the political situation in the country, saying that many of the graduates may be questioning the strength of the American Dream.

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