At fall commencement and throughout this holiday season, imagine what is possible

Dr. Mary A. Papazian

This Wednesday and Thursday, San Jose State will conduct its fall commencement ceremonies to celebrate and honor our mid-year graduates for the completion of their degree requirements.

Fall commencement dovetails nicely, I believe, with the holiday season and the coming new year. Both are celebratory in nature, of course, and both offer opportunities for reflection, gratitude and anticipation for what lies ahead.

These five commencement ceremonies enable our mid-year graduates to be honored just like those students who took part in college-based commencement ceremonies last spring. Every graduate will be individually recognized and personally congratulated on the platform by myself, the provost and the appropriate dean.

This special event offers a unique opportunity for our graduating students so we want to give commencement activities their due respect and the attention they deserve. We have a large team of talented people who have been working to make it as memorable for our students as possible.

Whether our new college graduates enter the workforce, continue their education or choose another path, there will be challenges ahead as they enter the next phase of their lives. These graduates will be charged with helping us address the important social, political and economic issues of our time. Along the way, they will face tests of varying degrees, only these tests will come not inside a classroom but out in the workplace, in their communities and neighborhoods.

But I know they will be prepared to handle these challenges with a flourish, just as they passed their final academic exams.

In my remarks to our new graduates this week, I will urge them to remember this: San Jose State will always be here for them.

While they may be leaving us, at the same time they can—and should!—remain connected. Each new graduate always will be a Spartan, a member of the San Jose State community. Alumni can mentor future students, attend sporting and artistic events, return for homecoming, or remain active in any number of other ways.

We also are here to provide ongoing educational opportunities as graduates settle in and grow in their professions and professional lives. We know the world around us is changing and that graduates of our university will encounter moments when they will want to add new skills or experiences to their repertoire. We hope our graduating Spartans will continue to look to SJSU to provide those opportunities.

Our graduates have forged relationships here that can last a lifetime. They have classmates, professors, mentors, lecturers, advisors and many others here who care about them and are excited about the possibilities in front of them.

These people and others here at San Jose State are not going away. They all have helped prepare our graduates for the road ahead by giving them the tools they need to succeed. These supporters know, as I do, that our new alumni will become positive agents for change, wherever they go and however they choose to have an impact on society.

This week’s fall commencement activities also offer a time for thanks and appreciation to all of those individuals who helped our graduates during their college journey.

Perhaps most of all, we should acknowledge and thank the families of our new graduates. My three brothers, along with my mother and father, helped me along my journey to a PhD. Without their support, I would not be here with you today.

At the same time, of course, we are preparing to spend time with friends, family and loved ones this holiday season. Like our new graduates at fall commencement, we are fortunate to have many things for which we can be grateful.

I, for one, am grateful for the wonderful student body at San Jose State that I am privileged to serve. I am deeply impressed with and inspired by the commitment they have demonstrated toward their studies and toward the issues that matter to them. The examples they set make them role models both for our current student body and for future students who will follow in their footsteps.

I also am deeply grateful for our talented faculty and staff members, who mentor and help educate our students in and outside the classroom. My cabinet and I are inspired daily by the hard work and dedication of those people who help make San Jose State one of the finest public universities in the country.

I am also grateful for our partners and collaborators here in the city of San Jose and the broader community. Their support means the world to our university and contributes mightily to the success of our students. I cannot thank them enough.

I am excited as we look to a magnificent year ahead of us.

Congratulations to all of our fall graduates! I hope fall commencement creates memories that will remain forever.

To those graduates and to everyone else who considers themselves part of the Spartan community, my husband Dennis and I wish you the happiest and most joyful of holidays, with peace, prosperity and good health for you and your families in 2019. Thank you for all you do.