San Jose State Commencement Celebrates 10,000 Graduates

San Jose State University concluded the year with its largest graduating class ever and a speaker who encouraged the Class of 2017 to “stand up for truth and reason” in a fast-paced and changing world.

Nearly 10,000 students received degrees this year. Among all those diplomas were 3,000 master’s degrees and 27 doctoral degrees, including the first graduating class of a new doctoral program in educational leadership.

“Your lives will change in ways that you can’t yet imagine,” said President Mary A. Papazian. “Your San Jose State degree, and the critical thinking skills you’ve gained from a caring, devoted faculty, will help you navigate that 24/7, ever-changing, unimaginably fast-moving world.”

Family members and guests arrived as early as 7:30 a.m. May 27 to find optimal seats to see graduates on the floor of CEFCU Stadium, Home of the Spartans. The morning fog burned off just in time for President Papazian to address the graduates on the football field.

Doctoral degrees

A ceremony highlight: the hooding of eight new doctors of education focusing specifically on educational leadership, earned while many of the new Ph.D.s worked full time.

Their goal? To grow in their careers while serving their communities as leaders of primary and secondary schools, as well as colleges and universities.

The graduates pursued dissertations on such varied topics as project-based learning and closing the achievement gap, harkening back to the university’s roots as a teacher’s college, founded in San Francisco shortly after the Gold Rush.

Inspiring speech

Award-winning television journalist and CEO of Latinas Contra Cancer Ysabel Duron, ’70 Journalism, delivered the Commencement address, appealing to the graduates to recognize that their degrees empower them to use their voices and contribute to society.

She brought a clock and a typewriter with her to the podium, pointing out that despite changes in technology, the values of a university endure.

“An educated, diverse society is needed to address the problems of our times,” Duron said. “And even more so, it takes a well-informed society to see the issues ahead and begin to address them in a humane way.”

A pioneering Latina broadcast journalist, Duron covered regional, national and international events for 43 years, culminating in two decades as a Bay Area reporter and anchor before launching an encore career as founder of Latinas Contra Cancer.

Giving back

During the ceremony, Phil Boyce, ’66 Business Administration, received an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Boyce has dedicated his career as a banker, businessman and philanthropist to cultivating healthy communities.

As chairman of the board of the Valley Foundation, Boyce helped establish a simulation nursing lab and create an endowment to support what is now known as the Valley Foundation School of Nursing.

“I’d like to congratulate our graduates. You have the tools to move forward,” Boyce said. “May I suggest one thing? I’d like to see you all give back to our community and this university. We need your help, we need your knowledge.”

Proudest moment

Following the speeches, the dean for each of San Jose State’s colleges took to the podium to confer master’s and bachelor’s degrees upon the graduates. As the ceremony finished, SJSU’s newest alumni joined in singing the alma mater while guests cheered.

Perhaps the proudest moment for the thousands of graduates in attendance came at the end, as they gathered with family and friends on the field for hugs, tears and, of course, photos.

Congratulations, Class of 2017!

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