graduation

Tassel time: Grads moving on to next phase

By

Mary Beth Faller

The more than 7,800 students who graduated from Arizona State University on Monday must be ready for a rapidly changing world, ASU’s president said.

As family and friends filled Wells Fargo Arena for the undergraduate commencement on Monday morning, Michael Crow told the newly minted graduates: “I have one final lesson for our students, and that lesson is: Prepare for change.”

ASU graduated nearly 5,700 undergraduates and more than 2,100 graduate students this semester, including 625 Sun Devils who are the first to graduate from the newly renamed Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. The graduate commencement was Monday afternoon.

“You need to prepare for the rapid advance of our democratic ideas of equality and justice and liberty,” Crow said.

“We’re not in a moment of weakness or retreat. We’re not in a moment where our democracy is not advancing. It is, in fact, just the opposite,” he said.

“All voices are on the table. That’s why we’re hearing so much arguing. This is all good.”

The new graduates should also prepare for a smaller world.

“Smaller not in the physical sense but smaller in a connected sense, where we will have to both compete and cooperate with everyone else,” Crow said, citing the decline in worldwide poverty and the increase in literacy.

And the new graduates need to be ready for the acceleration of technology, he said.

“This change, if done correctly, will transform our species. It will enable billions of people to have a life of greater fulfillment.

“The final lesson is this: Let’s get it right. It will be up to you all.”

Time-lapse by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Larry Penley of the Arizona Board of Regents echoed Crow’s theme of optimism.

“You graduate from this great university in a time of much promise,” he said.

“I know there are those who cry out some pessimism about our future, but neither President Crow nor I are among those individuals and neither should you be.”

Still, for some students, graduation is a bittersweet moment. Jiayu Li, who earned a bachelor’s of fine arts in photography from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, walked out of Wells Fargo Arena after the traditional balloon drop and took off her graduation cap, which she had decorated with a bow that featured Sparky. She said she’ll miss her time at ASU.

“I will miss the whole environment — my friends, my professors,” said Li, who’s searching for internship opportunities.

“The teachers are really nice. That’s mostly what I will miss.” 

Top photo: Kyle McGuire, who graduated with a degree in exercise and wellness, hugs his friend after graduation at Wells Fargo arena on Monday. Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now