"Pomp and Circumstance" filled the Skydome Friday afternoon as a sea of blue caps and gowns filed in, waiting to receive their diplomas and signify the end of their studies.
However, during the ceremony, Arizona Board of Regents member Rick Meyers encouraged the graduates to remain focused on the issue of education, even as they left college.
“I hope all of you support education throughout your lives,” Meyers told the crowd.
Meyers encouraged the group to mentor others, seek leadership opportunities and vote for elected leaders who support education.
Anthony Hessel, the vice president of legislative affairs for the graduate student government, encouraged the graduates to continue exercising their minds, even if they ae not still in the classroom.
“From my perspective, I’ve learned you are a superior thinker now than you were when you arrived at NAU,” he said.
At the commencement ceremony for the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Education, Arizona Teacher of the Year Christine Marsh received an honorary doctorate and addressed the graduating class.
Marsh told the crowd about her recent trip to Washington, D.C., where she met President Barack Obama. She said while touring the monuments, she felt insignificant among their accomplishments, but said even though she might not be another Lincoln, she realized she could still make the world better for those around her.
“Plan on making the world a better place,” Marsh said. “Make the world more loving, more supportive and more imaginative, and do it with passion.”
Marsh said the graduates should be proud of their accomplishments, but also look toward the future. She said they should relish in their achievements and look for a career that makes them feel fulfilled and energized.
“Make the world a better place than it was before you walked through it,” she said.
NAU alumnus David Mangelsdorf was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree Friday afternoon. Mangelsdorf has led research to develop strategies to treat a variety of diseases, including obesity, fatty liver disease and others, according to the NAU Office of Public Affairs.
Nearly 5,000 students will receive their degrees over the weekend, with the College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences boasting the most graduates, according to NAU spokeswoman Janea Laudick.
NAU President Rita Cheng told the students and families that graduation is only the beginning, and said she looks forward to seeing what they do in the future.
“Show the world what it means to be a Lumberjack,” she said.
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“Plan on making the world a better place. Make the world more loving, more supportive and more imaginative, and do it with passion.”
--Christine Marsh, Arizona Teacher of the Year