As spring commencement and summer approach, bask in the awe and pride our students inspire

Dr. Mary A. Papazian

Starting tomorrow, San Jose State will conduct spring commencement ceremonies at both our Event Center and Avaya Stadium. This is always a special time on the academic calendar, a time when our new graduates gather to celebrate their achievements with friends and family, proudly walk across the stage and reflect on their years at SJSU and the promises ahead of them.

Though it is a busy week for all involved, it is very much worth the time and effort. Our graduates have earned this moment of acknowledgement and celebration, and we will make it as memorable as we can. Each graduate, for instance, will be recognized by name and personally congratulated on the platform by myself, the provost and the appropriate dean. There will be a great deal of laughing, smiling and cheering throughout each ceremony! And I would not have it any other way.

A final note about commencement. Sometimes, in the understandable rush to start celebrating with loved ones and get on with post-commencement parties and picture-taking, participants might be tempted to leave the vicinity early, before the ceremony has concluded. Leaving prior to the end of the event diminishes the experience for those students who have yet to walk on stage and their families who have come to cheer them on.

So I ask all of our students, faculty and others to respect the occasion, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our graduates, and offer your full attention until the conclusion of the ceremony. This, of course, is in keeping with San Jose State values of respect for every individual, decency and kindness. Thank you.

Commencement ceremonies and the prelude to the summer months make it an ideal time for pause and reflection.

This spring, we saw the opening of the Spartan Recreation and Aquatics Center and the groundbreaking of our new Interdisciplinary Science Building. Both occasions bode well for the SJSU community, not only for the future but—in the case of SRAC—in the here and now. Another important groundbreaking—that of our new Football Operations Center—is slated for mid-June. I will write more about that as the event draws near.

So, San Jose State continues to take shape as an authentic, livable community all its own, one with the added benefit of being nestled alongside a growing, thriving urban district.

We also unveiled Transformation 2030, our new 10-year strategic plan.

Transformation 2030 is designed to prepare us for the next steps in SJSU’s development, and it continues our recent tradition of embracing change at San Jose State that builds on the strong foundations built by generations of faculty, staff and students who have come before us. I will continue, in the weeks and months ahead, to write about specific goals laid out in Transformation 2030.

Also this semester, we saw the opening of our permanent, fully-stocked Spartan Food Pantry, a facility that helps solve one of our basic needs issues. On the issue of housing, we continue to have meaningful discussions with several stakeholders, and we will soon have some tangible progress to report on in this important area.

With these and other challenges, our students—both those graduating and those returning in the fall—overcome so many barriers on a daily basis. Their achievements, then, cannot help but inspire awe and pride. Our students remind us each and every day all why we are here.

At our commencement ceremonies, I will allude to our graduating students as “Superheroes” who are now armed with newfound powers, powers bestowed upon them by their diplomas and all that they represent.

I will challenge them by asking: what will you do with this new power? Will you use it for the greater good? The college education and diplomas they receive come with power, but they also come with responsibility. Graduates are now no longer tasked with homework and classroom assignments, but instead will be presented with opportunities to tackle vital societal issues. I have no doubt they will succeed.

I hope our new graduates remain connected to SJSU in one way, shape or form. Once a Spartan, Always a Spartan! We need this new generation of alumni, just as we continue to need our current alumni. Whether it is through the mentoring of future students, supporting our university’s athletic or creative endeavors or remaining active in other ways, the SJSU alumni community is an absolutely critical element of what we want to accomplish.

Congratulations to all of our spring graduates. And to everyone, I wish you the most pleasant of summers, packed with family vacations, summer reading and good health. See you in August, if not before!