Graduation 2019: Busy May Culminates in 2,600+ Degrees, Memorable Moments

Graduation 2019: Busy May Culminates in 2,600+ Degrees, Memorable Moments

The University of San Diego sure had a busy month of May. There were two full weekends of Commencement ceremonies — School of Law kicked it off on May 18, two separate graduate schools ceremonies May 19 and 25 and two undergraduate graduations on May 26 — along with multiple pre-graduation recognition events, research presentations and final exams and more.


But when it was all finished on a late Sunday afternoon during Memorial Day weekend, more than 2,600 degrees were handed out to the Class of 2019, the newest Torero alumni.

Three outstanding undergraduate students, valedictorians Kristina Kimsey (College of Arts and Sciences), Gregory Gibson (School of Business) and Madison Horn (Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering) shared their memories, advice and doled out thank yous to friends, family and faculty. A few graduates walked across the stage with adorable and vital support dogs at their side. Many raised their hands in celebration, blew a kiss, waved and a few even danced their way over to a waiting handshake from USD President James T. Harris. Some 120 graduates in the Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership master's program, one of the degrees offered through Professional and Continuing Education, received a complimentary fist bump from academic coordinator Erik Fritsvold, PhD, right after he announced their name.

Some graduating students had the chance to accept their degree from a parent who works at USD or a graduate degree alongside their spouse. One couple, Ian and Sara Pike, had the unique joy of graduating together with their respective Juris Doctor degrees. Ian had the bonus opportunity to give a shout-out to Sara from the JCP stage because he was selected to give the law student speech on behalf of the graduating class. Many students, especially during the undergraduate ceremonies, were able to have a quick hug and "thank you" exchange with faculty members stationed near the ramp up to the JCP stage.

For some students, the degree they earned this year was their second or possibly third from USD. One student, Angelica Ignacio, received her master's in accountancy on May 25 and then picked up her bachelor's in accountancy the next day. A few students were also the first to receive a new degree offered at USD, whether it was seven students from the Kroc School's Master of Science in Conflict Management and Resolution or the first four Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering students to receive their BS/BA dual degree in the Integrated Engineering concentration.

Only one graduation had a true commencement speaker — Shaka Johnson, a 2003 law alumnus, shared an upbeat and mindful message to “Be Positive, Be Kind and Be You,” — but President Harris’ address to all graduating students centered on valuable life lessons/reminders following his successful hike up to the top of California’s Mt. Whitney with USD’s Outdoor Adventures staff getting a shout-out for its support.

Another consistent speaker at graduation events was Gerry Rodrigues, a 1997 USD business alumnus, who has served the last two years as USD's Alumni Association Board President. His job at commencement is to welcome the newest Torero alumni members to a network that’s now more than 70,000 worldwide. He reminded everyone that they'll always have a home at USD and to remember that Oct. 3-6 is USD’s 2019 Homecoming and Family Weekend.

Grad School Grads-2019

The Jenny Craig Pavilion hosted seven USD-connected graduation events this month — the five main ceremonies, NROTC San Diego’s Commissioning Ceremony (19 of 31 officers commissioned became USD grads) and the annual Baccalaureate Mass for undergraduate grads and their families. Each ceremony inside the JCP was shown on a livestream feed on the USD website and also on USD’s main Facebook page for interested viewers in the United States and worldwide. Each ceremony can be seen on a video replay at least until the end of this month.

Indeed, May was busy. But it was the best kind of busy at the university. Each graduate's walk across the stage signifies a milestone in their life, a reward for perseverance, hard work and knowledge — both in and outside the classroom — from a treasured faculty member, mentor, study abroad or community engagement experience, meeting new people, learning about a new culture or community on campus. The end result is often visible when wearing multiple graduation stoles with their cap and gowns, signifying their development as a Changemaker and showing their passion for not only what has been learned, but also their determination to use it for what's ahead.

Congratulations to USD’s Class of 2019!  

— Ryan T. Blystone

Top photo slideshow: Combination of College of Arts and Sciences and School of Business/Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering UG ceremonies.

Bottom photo slideshow: Combination of SOLES/PCE, SOLES Latinx Recognition Ceremony and Graduate Schools 2 ceremony.

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