Winter commencement signals new beginning for more than 2,000 UA graduates
Family and friends gathered in McKale Center Saturday morning to witness more than 2,000 UA students become Wildcat alumnus.
UA President Ann Weaver Hart led the procession into McKale, to an applauding audience, for the winter commencement.
Commencement included 1,709 undergraduate students, 594 graduate students, and 150 doctoral students. Hart presided over the ceremony with Robert A. Eckert, chairman and chief executive officer of Mattel, Inc.
“Like so many celebrations, this day marks both an end and a beginning,” Hart said to the winter graduates. “This occasion marks the completion of an important goal, a University of Arizona degree. Today also signals a new beginning, as our graduates step into the world.”
Following the initial procession, Hart asked for a moment of silence for families and victims affected by Friday’s shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.
Then, Rick Myers, chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, took the podium and congratulated the class of 2012: “Each of you have come a long way to earn this degree.”
Following Myers, Sarah Hamre, president of the UA chapter of the Mortar Board society, took the stage.
“Regardless of the number of times you may have changed your major, the number of times you may have doubted yourself in the academic path you chose to pursue, and the number of times you feared what the future will bring, you are all here wearing your mortar boards together,” Hamre said.
The Centennial Awards were then presented to Aleksey Chernobelskiy, Gresa Sylejmani, Emily Hamblin, Whitney Mohr, Casey Kahn-Thornbrugh, and Jenna Vinson. The Centennial Awards are given to students who overcome challenges in their academic journey while remaining exceptional students.
The Alumni Achievement Award was awarded to Heather Henricks Lenkin. The University Distinguished Outreach Faculty Award was then presented to Todd Fletcher, an associate professor of the Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies, and Sally Stevens, the executive director of the Southwest Institute for Research on Women.
Following the presentation of the awards, Eckert was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. After donning his robe, Eckert gave the 2012 commencement address.
“I am optimistic about the future, about your future,” Eckert said. “I am a son of the greatest generation, and the father of the next great generation. Today, I am looking at the next great generation.”
Following the conclusion of the commencement address, Hart confirmed the class of 2012 as UA graduates.
“It’s amazing. I am speechless, speechless. I am very happy,” said Avery Gilmer, a graduating student in the College of Letters, Arts and Science. “[This is a] once in a lifetime memory.”