Thousands of students become alumni with the switch of a tassel
Just as the sun was cresting over Desert Financial Arena on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University on Monday morning, Eder Estrada stood as his mother adjusted his tie and stole. Having just earned a Bachelor of Science in construction management, Estrada wore a gold hard hat instead of a mortarboard.
“I feel excited,” he said. “Mission accomplished!”
Estrada was one of about 6,100 undergraduate students who received their degrees during fall 2019 commencement at ASU. Including graduate students, the fall cohort of students totaled more than 8,400 people.
“Who’s ready to graduate?” President Michael Crow asked the undergrads assembled. “Ninety-eight percent of our graduates are on to graduate school or immediate employment.”
Estrada falls into the latter category. He already has a job building the new Terminal 3 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. He’ll miss ASU, where his two years “went by quick,” he said. “It was magnificent.”
His advice to those still toiling in classroom, lab and library? “Work hard. Stay dedicated. Family is important to support you.”
UNDERGRADUATE COMMENCEMENT: John Kircher, BS in political science, makes final adjustments to his cap as his friend Madison Goldstein, BA in psychology, coaches him before the start of the fall 2019 undergraduate commencement on Dec. 16.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Justice studies major Robin Jouett shows her mortarboard, a message for her mother, at the fall 2019 undergraduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Eder Estrada, BS in construction management, gets final adjustments from his mother before the start of the fall 2019 undergraduate commencement in Tempe.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Film studies major Brenna Potts holds up her mortarboard, a quilt including photos of family members, a scrap of her baby blanket and her favorite movies, before the start of fall commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Randall Morin (left), BA in liberal arts studies, and Breanna Davis, BSN in nursing, congratulate each other Monday at Desert Financial Arena.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Theater studies major Christopher Dozier throws up a pitchfork during the start of 2019 fall undergraduate commencement at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe on Monday morning.
Moeur Award winners proceed into the fall 2019 undergraduate commencement carrying gonfalons.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Faculty members walk in at the start of undergraduate commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
ASU President Michael Crow speaks at commencement Monday morning at Desert Financial Arena.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Angelica Yapura, BSN in nursing, stands to be recognized for her accomplishments at the fall 2019 undergraduate commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Jack Symmes, BS in construction management, and other Moeur Award winners move their tassels to the left, signifying their new status.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
(From left) Biological science majors Edwin Arredondo and Rafael Rodriguez Garcia and liberal studies major Blake Witt reach for balloons at the conclusion of undergraduate commencement.Photo by Jarod Opperman/ASU
Christopher Dozier, BA in exploratory theater studies, and others enjoy the balloon drop following fall 2019 undergraduate commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Newly engaged interdisciplinary studies graduate Victoria Pita hugs her 8-year-old son, Ryder Lopez, as she talks with her fiancé, Richard Lopez, after the fall 2019 undergraduate commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Biology graduate Kittanna O’Connor celebrates as she looks for her family after the 2019 fall undergraduate commencement on Monday morning.Photo by Jenny Dupuis/ASU
Zixu Zhao stood outside with his family. They flew in from China a few days ago to celebrate Zhao’s accomplishment of earning a bachelor's degree in marketing. No one could remember which side of his mortarboard the tassel was supposed to go on. (The right side before the ceremony; the left after the degree has formally been awarded. “Left as you leave.”)
His feelings? “Just normal. My parents are excited.”
Zhao plans to go to the United Kingdom to earn his master’s degree in marketing. “I liked it,” he said of his time at ASU.
His advice to students? “Focus on study. Go to class.”
Crow iterated his faith in the latest generation of grads, citing a news clip he saw recently where a 25-year-old New Zealand lawmaker responded to an older colleague's heckling during a speech about climate change by using the phrase "OK, boomer."
“I heard that and I was unbelievably inspired,” Crow said, adding that the new generation is taking on a world much different than it was 30 years ago. “What I want to hear from all of you is a lot more ‘OK, boomer.’”
Karrin Taylor Robson, secretary of the Arizona Board of Regents, greeted the grads by recalling her own commencement from ASU 32 years ago.
“Earning a college degree is a considerable achievement,” she said. “It is a significant milestone. … We hope that you will continue to call Arizona home.”
Each dean turned to the university president and presented their candidates for bachelor’s degrees based on the recommendation of the faculty. Teachers, journalists, nurses, businesspeople, landscape architects, artists and engineers all stood.
Crow conferred degrees upon the class, instructing them to move their mortarboard tassels from right to left, a ritual signifying that their degrees were official.
And then they were alumni.
GRADUATE COMMENCEMENT: Clinical Associate Professor Christine Borst (left) snaps a selfie with new doctors of behavioral health Andree Sutton (center) and Jessenia Zayas-Rios before the start of the ceremony Monday afternoon.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Music education faculty member Margaret Schmidt smiles before the ceremony begins.Photo by Jarod Opperman/ASU
Thunderbird applied leadership and management graduate Senita Lavulavu wears the haku lei her mother made for her during fall graduate commencement.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
President Michael Crow leads the faculty processional next to Shirley Rose, chair of the Academic Senate and Assembly, carrying the University Mace, at the graduate commencement on Monday.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Engineering graduate Hongbei He waves to her family during graduate commencement.Photo by Laura Sposato/ASU
Andree Sutton receives her hood for her doctorate of behavioral health from Clinical Associate Professor Christine Borst during graduate commencement Monday afternoon in Tempe.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Graduate Alexis Hernandez waves to her friends and family during commencement.Photo by Laura Sposato/ASU
Wife and husband Taryn and Kevin Rogers leave the stage following their recognition as earning their master's degrees in communication study through ASU Online on Monday afternoon.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Doctoral graduate Jessenia Zayas-Rios celebrates the conclusion of fall commencement Monday afternoon.Photo by Jenny Dupuis/ASU
Associate Professor Melanie Bertrand (left), justice studies doctoral graduate Melanie Weaver (center) and sustainability doctoral graduate Angela Cazel-Jahn applaud all the graduates at the end of commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Cindy Vang, PhD in social work, takes off her cap so her friend Michael Sieng can place a lei around her neck after the end of graduate commencement.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Top photo: Suzanne Collett, who earned her bachelor's degree in liberal arts studies, stands with others being recognized for working while attending courses at the fall 2019 undergraduate commencement on Monday, Dec. 16, at Desert Financial Arena. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now