The University of Arizona

Class of 2014 Sent Off to Educate, Discover and Make an Impact

University Relations - Communications | May 19, 2014

The UA held its 150th Commencement ceremony on Saturday.

About 4,000 graduates attended the UA's 150th Commencement ceremony. (Photo credit: Jacob Chinn/UA Alumni Association)
About 4,000 graduates attended the UA's 150th Commencement ceremony. (Photo credit: Jacob Chinn/UA Alumni Association)
"This university is built on the promise of leadership, and you – as students, and now as alumni – are the heart and soul of that promise," UA President Ann Weaver Hart told the graduates. "Ladies and gentlemen of the Class of 2014, the dance floor is open – and they are playing your song."  (Photo credit: Jacob Chinn/UA Alumni Association)
"This university is built on the promise of leadership, and you – as students, and now as alumni – are the heart and soul of that promise," UA President Ann Weaver Hart told the graduates. "Ladies and gentlemen of the Class of 2014, the dance floor is open – and they are playing your song." (Photo credit: Jacob Chinn/UA Alumni Association)
Zachary S. Brooks,  president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, reminded the graduates that they " are ambassadors, connecting the University of Arizona to inner space, local space, aerospace and outer space." (Photo credit: Robert Walker)
Zachary S. Brooks, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, reminded the graduates that they " are ambassadors, connecting the University of Arizona to inner space, local space, aerospace and outer space." (Photo credit: Robert Walker)
"This is your time. Embrace it and walk in it. Be positive and encourage others to live with boldness, fearlessness and grit," Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA and keynote speaker, told the graduates. (Photo credit: Jacob Chinn/UA Alumni Association)
"This is your time. Embrace it and walk in it. Be positive and encourage others to live with boldness, fearlessness and grit," Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA and keynote speaker, told the graduates. (Photo credit: Jacob Chinn/UA Alumni Association)

In the largest Commencement in University of Arizona history, about 4,000 graduates received their degrees and were charged with applying what they have learned to improve the knowledge and lives of people around the world.

Including the graduates, an estimated 36,000 people attended the ceremony at Arizona Stadium, which ended with a high-energy display of lights, smoke machines, flamethrowers and hundreds of red, white and blue fireworks.

"This evening marks the end of a remarkable journey that I am sure has transformed you in many ways. The most tangible accomplishment is your University of Arizona degree," UA President Ann Weaver Hart said during the ceremony.

"You embody the spirit of determined curiosity, thought in action and community engagement that drove this University from its founding in 1885 and that defines it to this day," Hart said. "To fulfill the promise of your degree and the potential of this community of learning, tonight's commencement is also a call for you to be leaders in our world and in your communities and in your professional lives."

Rick Myers, chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents, also reminded graduates of their duty to educate the next generation of youth, launch new companies, create products that will revolutionize industry and even develop cures for medical conditions.

"All of you are going to create the future. It's your responsibility and your destiny," Myers said. "It's something that you are now better prepared to do with the education you've received here at the University of Arizona."

Anna Maria Chávez, an alumna of the UA's James E. Rogers College of Law and CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, reminded graduates that it is now their time to be solution-oriented leaders.

"This is your time. Embrace it and walk in it. Be positive and encourage others to live with boldness, fearlessness and grit," she said. "And don't wait another year. Don't even wait another month. We need your leadership now, graduates, because we have some serious problems to solve in this country, and we need everyone to contribute to the solutions."

Several graduates have gotten a head start on that call to action. During the ceremony, six students who earned their undergraduate degrees were honored for their academic achievements and service to others.

Rinku Skaria, who earned physiology and business management degrees, and Jonathan Yamaguchi, who earned degrees in biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology, each received a Merrill P. Freeman Medal.

Two graduates earned the Robie Gold Medal, which are given to seniors committed to service to the student body while retaining a high academic standard. They are Rae Anne Martinez, who earned a degree in molecular and cellular biology and sociology, and Colton Cray, who earned four degrees: in management information systems, finance, entrepreneurship and operations management.

Emily Huang and Kurt Mohty each earned the Robert Logan Nugent Medal. Huang earned her degree in finance and applied mathematics and Mohty earned a degree in physiology and applied mathematics.

Erica Bee, who earned a communication degree, was presented with the inaugural Provost Award, a new award granted to transfer students who performed exceeding well at the UA.

Also, Turki Faisal Al Rasheed received the Alumni Achievement Award, given by the UA Alumni Association. Al Rasheed, a prominent leader in the field of agribusiness and a champion of democratic processes and voting rights in the Middle East, actively represents the UA in the Gulf region, where he is crucial to University activities in the Gulf region.

And, including Chávez, the UA granted six honorary degrees to: Fletcher McCusker, CEO of Sinfonía HealthCare Corp; Scott Pask, a three-time Tony Award winning scenic designer; David Russell, A Grammy Award winning classical guitarist; Terrence (Terry) Valeski, Vice Chairman of T-Mobile in the Czech Republic; and  Malcolm H. Wiener, historian and archaeologist.

Visit the Commencement photo gallery to see more images.