New York Times op-ed columnist urges newest Sun Devil alumni to build relationships to help heal society
The Arizona State University undergraduate commencement ceremony made its triumphant return to Sun Devil Stadium on Monday evening, where political analyst and New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks told the crowd of more than 30,000 graduates and guests that being there to deliver the commencement speech was “one of the greatest honors” of his life.
“This is a university of the people,” he said. “This is the university America needs most.”
Brooks, whom ASU President Michael Crow introduced as one of the leading public intellectuals in the U.S., was conferred with an honorary doctorate of humane letters for significant contributions to his field and society at large. His current work focuses on social fragmentation and what people can do to create a community of relationship and purpose.
He took students through what he called a journey of their future emotional life, saying that their spiritual and emotional health in the decades ahead would be directly proportional to how much love they pour into the people around them, and that the greatest gift they can give their country is emotional courage.
“I ask you, keep showing up all the way; fight hatred with vulnerability,” Brooks said. “Vulnerability is the only way we have in this country and world to build relationships, and relationships are the only way we have to experience joy — it is the only way we have to heal our broken society.”
Crow reminded the graduates and their families of the mission of ASU, to be an institution that measures itself by those it includes, rather than those it excludes.
“One of things going forward in our society is that we have to find ways to reach more people, engage more people to drive our democracy forward … to make the fruits of our democracy — the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness — available to everyone,” he said.
Photos from undergraduate commencement:
From left: Gabriela Palomino and Shantelle Jones cheer as they are shown on the camera at the 2019 undergraduate commencement ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium on Monday, May 6.Photo by Jarod Opperman/ASU
Graduates Nolan Vale, Irelan Inoshita and Caitlin Kierum stand to be recognized at the 2019 undergraduate commencement ceremony.Photo by Jarod Opperman/ASU
From left: Cheyanna Shepherd, Beisha Hernandez, Stevie Blackburn-Lazalde, Maurice Colquitt and Enrique Montoya cheer after moving their tassels at the 2019 undergraduate commencement ceremony.Photo by Jarod Opperman/ASU
Blaine McCormick hugs another journalism student at undergraduate commencement on Monday.Photo by Nicole Neri/ASU Now
Tamar Lamy cries during the commencement address by David Brooks at undergraduate commencement.Photo by Nicole Neri/ASU Now
Education studies graduate Pingping Xiao has her robes and stole adjusted by her family prior to the start of undergraduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Supply chain marketing graduate Kelaiah Dillard hugs her nephew Braelon Babauta-Dillard prior to the start of undergraduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Journalism graduate Bryce Newberry hugs his friend and public policy graduate Kaitlyn Swift during undergraduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
The Class of 1969 Golden Grads enter Sun Devil Stadium during undergraduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
President Michael Crow introduces New York Times writer David Brooks during undergraduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Student-veteran graduates laugh as New York Times writer David Brooks addresses the crowd during undergraduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Undergraduate commencement speaker David Brooks addresses the crowd at Sun Devil Stadium on Monday.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
From left: Starbucks College Achievement Plan scholars Dylan Perez (sociology), Jaace Koreerat (sociology), Katie Roney (history) and Marlaena Farner (communication) celebrate during undergraduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Families meet up with their graduates outside Sun Devil Stadium following undergraduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Online student and electrical engineering graduate Erik Bentley gets a hug and a kiss from his fiancee Mallory Daley after undergraduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Matthew Bogue, who was receiving his bachelor’s in communication and media studies from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said he was there Monday evening because the Starbucks College Achievement Plan allowed him to pursue his dream of a college degree when he otherwise might not have been able to.
“It takes everybody the amount of time it takes them,” Bogue said. “I turn 30 in a few months. It’s never too late.”
Political science graduate Jennifer Dardas, 33, echoed that sentiment. A mother of three, she has already secured a job with the U.S. Department of State.
“You can do anything you set your mind to,” she said.
Nearly 11,000 bachelor’s degrees were conferred at the ceremony, more than 500 of whom were Starbucks College Achievement Plan graduates, more than 2,000 of whom were online students and roughly 54% of whom are Arizona residents.
Earlier in the day, approximately 4,800 graduate students received their master’s degrees at a ceremony at Wells Fargo Arena.
Photos from Graduate Commencement:
JD graduate Desirae Deschine looks at her family in the crowd during the graduate commencement at Wells Fargo Arena on May 6, 2019.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Friends and public administration master's degree graduates (from left) Grant Harrison, Jessica Rivera-Garcia and Jenna Parker walk back to their seats together during graduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
From left: Engineering master's graduates Nischal Kumar, Namrata Gorantla, Ashwini Jambagi and Ram Kiran pose for a photo together following the graduate commencement at Wells Fargo Arena.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Some of the 38 members of the executive MBA program from Shanghai gather for a group photo before the graduate commencement ceremony on May 6 at Wells Fargo Arena.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
University senate president and ceremony grand marshal Donna Cataldo carries the university mace at the graduate commencement ceremony.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
ASU President Michael Crow speaks at the graduate commencement ceremony.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Alexandra Vicknair beams as her mentor, Regents' Professor Donald Fixico, places her hood signifying she's earned her doctorate in history at the graduate commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Doctor of biomedical engineering Saba Rezvanian, from Iran, shakes hands with President Michael Crow at the graduate commencement ceremony.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Master of Science in forensic psychology Maddie Chumley shakes hands with Provost Mark Searle at the graduate commencement ceremony.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Master of Science in engineering friends (from left) Sarvesh Khanna (civil engineering), Mitul Shah (industrial engineering), Sanket Ugile (mechanical engineering) and Karan Shaw (mechanical engineering), flash pitchforks following the graduate commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Educational doctors in leadership and innovation (from left) Kira Gatewood, Allison Atkins, JoAnn Martinez and Emerald Ochonogor, have a group hug at graduate commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Graduates fend off balloons at the conclusion of the graduate commencement at Wells Fargo Arena.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Katelyn Schroll, Master of Science in human systems engineering, and Alyssa Dodd, Master of Science in forensic psychology, snap a selfie following the graduate commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Scenes from Graduate Commencement:
Video by Jordan Currier/ASU
This commencement season, ASU graduates represent scores of countries countries and all 50 states, completing degrees in more than 300 programs.
It also marks the graduation of the first cohort of Public Service Academy students. Approximately 130 students graduated from the academy, which was launched in 2015 to develop the leaders of tomorrow who are prepared to find solutions for society’s biggest challenges and create a culture of service by leveraging and combining military and civilian experiences.
ASU is the only public university in the nation with such an academy, and its mission reflects Brooks' message to students that our success in life should be measures by “the way our souls sing when we succeed at helping people in need.”
Crow implored graduates to take the theme of the evening’s ceremony to heart, and to go forth with the skills they have acquired through their education and make a difference in the world.
“Do not sit back and watch,” he said. “Do not sit back and complain. Do not whine. Take responsibility. Take action. Congratulations, graduates.”
Top photo: A graduate throws up a pitchfork as fireworks launch to celebrate the undergraduate student commencement on May 6 at Sun Devil Stadium. Photo by Nicole Neri/ASU