Professor Melissa Fitch addresses the crowd during the pre-Commencement show last year. Thousands of UA students will receive degrees during the 2017 ceremony, to be held in Arizona Stadium on May 12. (Photo: John de Dios/UANews)
Professor Melissa Fitch addresses the crowd during the pre-Commencement show last year. Thousands of UA students will receive degrees during the 2017 ceremony, to be held in Arizona Stadium on May 12. (Photo: John de Dios/UANews)

Nearly 4,000 Grads to Attend Commencement

The Class of 2017 includes students who are committed to serving rural communities and others who established organizations to meet community needs.
May 3, 2017
Extra Info: 

Commencement 2017 by the numbers:

  • Nearly 4,000 graduating undergraduate and graduate students are expected to attend the ceremony (in addition to May graduates, degrees will be conferred on December 2016/Winter 2016 and also August 2017 candidates).
  • About 40,000 guests are expected to attend.
  • Stadium gates will open to guests at 5:30. 
  • The live pre-Commencement show will begin at about 6.
  • The ceremony will begin at 7:30 sharp. Undergraduates will not process; graduate students will process with faculty members and the platform party.
  • The ceremony is expected to last about 90 minutes.
  • More than 300 volunteers are helping with Commencement.

Event details are available online for:

Also: Follow Commencement coverage on Twitter and share using #Beardownlife

What: 
153rd Commencement of the University of Arizona
When: 
7:30 p.m. Friday, May 12. Gates open to guests at 5:30.
Where: 
Arizona Stadium
A team of 300 volunteers helps with the UA's Commencement ceremony. (Photo: John de Dios/UANews)
A team of 300 volunteers helps with the UA's Commencement ceremony. (Photo: John de Dios/UANews)
Bryan Carter, an associate professor of Africana studies, is among the faculty members who will participate in the Commencement pre-show. (Photo: John de Dios/UANews)
Bryan Carter, an associate professor of Africana studies, is among the faculty members who will participate in the Commencement pre-show. (Photo: John de Dios/UANews)

Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden Jr., nominated by former U.S. President Barack Obama to serve as the 12th administrator of NASA, becoming the first African-American to hold that position, will be the speaker for the 153rd Commencement of the University of Arizona.

UA President Ann Weaver Hart will confer about 6,800 degrees, including approximately 4,600 undergraduate degrees, 2,100 graduate degrees and 100 professional degrees. Bolden is one of five individuals selected to receive an honorary degree from the UA.

Commencement will take place on May 12 at 7:30 p.m. in Arizona Stadium, with gates open to guests at 5:30. Each college also will hold its own celebration for its graduates. The information on those times and locations can be found online.

Ceremony Details

Guests can enter the stadium from any entrance. The UA asks guests to be aware of the weather, drinking plenty of water, wearing a hat and using sunscreen. Small umbrellas will be permitted. Concessions will be open for those wishing to purchase snacks, soft drinks and water.

Staff and volunteers will be available in the stadium for assistance with any questions or concerns.

Parking garages and surface lots will be available, and are all within walking distance of the stadium. The UA CatTran shuttle and UA golf cart service will be available, as well. Parking for those with disabilities will be available at the Cherry Avenue Garage. Visit the UA Commencement page for information regarding disability-related access.

Heat Advisory

Temperatures are expected to be around 90 degrees. Water will be plentiful, for free and for purchase, during the event. Those attending also may bring water in a new, sealed water bottle (plastic only).

Clear-Bag Policy

Commencement will enforce standard UA game-day rules: 

  • Attendees must abide by the UA's clear-bag policy for entry into the stadium.
  • No outside containers, large bags, backpacks or parcels will be permitted, and all in-hand items must be placed in the appropriate and approved clear bag.
  • Balloons and view-obstructing banners are not permitted in the stadium.
  • All personal items are subject to search.

Class Gift

Hundreds of graduating undergraduate and graduate students have contributed more than $6,000 to the Class Gift, now in its third year. This year's gift will benefit the Think Tank and Counseling and Psychological Services to improve access to in-demand UA resources. To give, visit the Class Gift website.

7 Standouts From the Class of '17

Albert Alan: Homeless for three years prior to his time at the UA, he is receiving degrees in physiology, neuroscience and cognitive science, and sociology. Alan, one of the 2017 Robert L Nugent award recipients, says he is committed to serving the medically underserved.

"I spent many days sifting through garbage for salvageable scraps of food and saw the bleakest parts of human existence in live, vivid and often violent colors, which made it difficult avoid despondency, complacency and apathy toward other humans," he says. "I promised myself I would work to illuminate the struggles of street life because many of the homeless people I know do not have the opportunity to share their stories like I do."

He launched a pro-bono tutoring service that helped more than 500 underserved students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He volunteers weekly with Produce on Wheels With-Out Waste to deliver thousands of pounds of fresh produce to homeless shelters and has raised more than $50,000 to support the food distribution program. He also co-created the Refugee Support Program, spending time each month cooking for and playing with young children new to the U.S. 

"I want to give them the resources and the knowledge to navigate through this country successfully," says Alan, who has been accepted into the UA's dual-degree MD/MS program, the Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway program.

Michelle Marquez: A Pima Community College transfer student, she has been heavily involved with Eller Transfer Ambassadors and has been especially supportive of UA Online students. After graduation, she will begin a master's program in the UA College of Education toward service in education administration.

Kelly Maroney: Graduating with a systems engineering degree, she will work as a technical problem solver for Epic Systems. While at the UA, she was involved with Tech Launch Arizona's Business Intelligence Analyst Program. "The biggest takeaway for me personally is gaining research and technical writing skills that I can apply to my future career as an engineer," she says, "and it's very rewarding to be a part of a process that helps professors and inventors transform their inventions to commercialized products and make people's lives better."

Sara Frye: The College of Education's convocation speaker is receiving doctoral degrees in school psychology and rehabilitation. She is currently in an internship at the Hershey Medical Center and, while at the UA, has received multiple external awards for her research and academic achievement. She worked in the UA Child Cognition Lab, investigating how children learn and how chronic illnesses and disabilities impact educational outcomes.

Hillary Neese: An animal sciences major, she has served as a PariBet Racetrack Industry intern at Tucson's Rillito Park and as a Race Track Industry Program student worker. She has secured an internship at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky.

Molly Hansen: A board member and director of outreach for the UA Campus Pantry, she was among those who helped negotiate designated space for the pantry in the Student Union Memorial Center. She will receive a degree in communication and pursue graduate studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Fermin Prieto: He will receive a degree in biomedical engineering and choose from five medical schools into which he has been accepted. His parents sent him and his sister to the U.S. when he was in high school. Although he was 14 and not proficient in English, he soon would begin to excel in math and science. "I developed a personal mission of serving the Hispanic community in rural areas that are in need of medical providers," he says. "Being bicultural and bilingual, passionate, dedicated and enthusiastic about medicine, makes me more than qualified to accomplish this mission. It will be my privilege to give back in this way to the nation that provided me with a completely new opportunity to live and thrive."