About 4,500 graduates are expected to join in the celebration at Arizona Stadium on Friday. (Photo: John de Dios/UANews)
About 4,500 graduates are expected to join in the celebration at Arizona Stadium on Friday. (Photo: John de Dios/UANews)

UA to Confer About 6,700 Degrees

About 4,500 graduates and 40,000 guests are expected to attend Commencement on Friday in Arizona Stadium.
May 8, 2019
Extra Info: 

More information about Commencement is available at https://commencement.arizona.edu.

The event will be livestreamed at https://media.azpm.org/master/doc/ua/abor/commencement2019.html

What: 
155th UA Commencement
When: 
7:30 p.m., Friday, May 10
Where: 
Arizona Stadium

UA President Robert C. Robbins will confer about 6,700 degrees on students in the Class of 2019, including bachelor's degrees, master's/specialist degrees, doctorates, juris doctor degrees, medical degrees and doctorates in pharmacy.

About 4,500 graduates and 40,000 guests are expected to attend Commencement, which takes place Friday at 7:30 at Arizona Stadium.

The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Mae C. Jemison, engineer, physician, entrepreneur, educator and the first woman of color to travel into space.

Jemison served six years as a NASA astronaut and was the first woman of color in the world to go into space, taking part in a joint space shuttle mission with the Japanese space agency. After leaving NASA, Jemison founded two companies, including The Jemison Group, Inc., a technology consulting firm integrating critical sociocultural issues into the design of engineering and science initiatives. As a professor at Dartmouth College, Jemison focused on technologies' designs for sustainability for both industrialized and developing nations. 

She started the nonprofit Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, which designs and implements STEM education experiences impacting students and teachers worldwide. One such program, begun in 1994, is the international science camp The Earth We Share, for 12-16-year-old students from around the world. The program builds science literacy while tasking students with solving global dilemmas. (Read more about Jemison here.)

"I am so thrilled that Dr. Jemison will be sharing her wisdom with our graduates this year," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "She is a true inspiration; her career, entrepreneurship and innovative spirit makes her an amazing person to help celebrate our Class of 2019. I am looking forward to her speech, and I am honored that she is joining us for such an important evening in our students' lives."

Honorary degree and Alumni Achievement Award recipients

Jemison is one of two honorary degree recipients at this year's Commencement. She will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the UA College of Humanities. Victor Smith will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Smith is CEO of JV Smith Companies, a diverse group of operations with farming, cooling and distribution facilities and shipping capacities in Arizona, California, Colorado and Baja, Mexico.

Smith is a longtime supporter of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This year, the UA established the Victor P. Smith Endowed Chair in Food Safety Education, with a generous $1.5 million gift from Smith. The support of the endowed chair will aid in the development and promotion of food safety educational programs at the UA and in connecting students with industry partners for food safety-related career opportunities.

Smith also helped to establish the Yuma Center for Excellence in Desert Agriculture, and a conference room in the Glen G. Curtis Building at the Yuma Experiment Station was named in honor of his parents.

This year's Alumni Achievement Award Recipient is Andy Harris, who graduated from the UA with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1987 and is now CEO of Vantage Specialty Chemicals.

Throughout his career, Harris has supported the university, its students and alumni. He is an Honorary Bobcat with the UA's Bobcats Senior Honorary, has served as president of the OCCats alumni club in Orange County, was on the UA Alumni Association Wildcat for Life Leadership Council and served on the UA Alumni Association Governing Board for seven years. Currently, he is a member of the National Leadership Council for the UA Foundation and also directly supports the UA and Alumni Association presidents.

In 2018, Harris worked with the Alumni Association to develop, fund and pilot the innovative Wildcat Mentor Society. In its initial year, the program made a positive impact on 90 students and 27 mentors who met monthly. The program aims to help mentees build their professional network, strengthen their UA alumni network, thrive through personal challenges and create deep, meaningful relationships with mentors that last beyond the program. (Read more about Smith and Harris here.)

Student award winners

Seven graduating students will be presented with awards at Commencement. The awards and their recipients are: 

Provost Award: Anita Jones, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Applied Science in human services and a minor in family studies.

Robert Logan Nugent Award: Tala Shahin, who will graduate summa cum laude from the Honors College with dual degrees in physiology and Arabic, and Alexa Nguyen, who will graduate summa cum laude from the Honors College with a degree in molecular and cellular biology, with minors in economics and religious studies.

Robie Gold Medal Awards: Francy D. Luna Diaz, who will graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Bachelor of Arts in law, and Bryn Deana Sharp, who will graduate summa cum laude from the Honors College with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Latin American studies and a minor in Portuguese.

Merrill P. Freeman Medals: Katrina M. Konopka, who will graduate from the Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, and Yezan Hassan, a quadruple major honors student graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and cognitive science, and molecular and cellular biology; a Bachelor of Science in Health Science in physiology; and a Bachelor of Arts in Arabic, with a minor in biochemistry.