USD Graduates Light the Way Forward at Commencement 2024

USD Graduates Light the Way Forward at Commencement 2024

Commencement 2024A group of graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences smile for a photo after commencement outside the Jenny Craig Pavilion (JCP) on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Photo by Zachary Barron)

It was an especially memorable commencement season at the University of San Diego (USD), as hundreds of graduates — many who missed out on their high school and undergraduate ceremonies four years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic — walked triumphantly across the stage and received their diplomas to loud applause inside the Jenny Craig Pavilion (JCP). 

The excitement was palpable in the arena, as students, faculty and families gathered to celebrate Commencement 2024 on successive weekends. The annual ceremonies recognized the remarkable achievements of graduates who have dedicated themselves to academic excellence, personal growth and the pursuit of knowledge. 

The first weekend on May 18-19 included the School of Law Graduate Mass, as well as the School of Law and Graduate I ceremonies. Graduate students in Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) and Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) proudly received their diplomas before their professors and families. The second weekend on May 25-26 included the second graduate ceremony, the Baccalaureate Mass for Undergraduates and Graduate II, and both of the undergraduate ceremonies. 

USD Commencement 2024

“Class of 2024, you’ve been through a lot and I recognize how special this graduation really is,” said USD President James T. Harris III, DEd, addressing the undergraduates during the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) ceremony.

Harris then asked all those who did not get to walk in their high school graduation to stand, and led the arena in a round of applause. 

“Most of you started here online in 2020,” Harris said. “You navigated different protocols, vaccines, wearing masks, not wearing masks, the uncertainty, the misinformation and the fear of such unprecedented times … and here you are. If you can get through four years of college during such an unpredictable time with a global pandemic, then you can do anything in the world, so congratulations.” 

CAS valedictorian Aidan Jacobs-Walker (BA) ’24 gave an inspiring speech that borrowed quotes from some of USD’s long term employees. 

“No number of ‘thank yous’ can express the extent of our gratitude,” Jacobs-Walker said on behalf of his class. “While the problems of the world often feel beyond our control, we can make life what we want it to be by dreaming big and going for it. When we refuse to let the worst parts of the world change who we are and who we are meant to be, we recognize our incredible ability to change for the better the things we can control.”


The meaning of the past four years is unique to each individual, Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering valedictorian Juliet Arizcuren (BS/BA) ’24, told her peers. 

“Make your presence felt, and create a life, a legacy that holds meaning,” Arizcuren said. “We have everything it takes, and it may take everything we have.” 

USD has long been renowned for its commitment to providing students with an education that goes beyond the confines of the classroom. As the graduating class embarks on the next chapter of their lives, they carry with them the lessons, experiences and relationships forged during their time on campus. 

As the university community bids farewell to these graduates, it does so with the knowledge that these exceptional individuals are poised to make a lasting impact on the world.

— Story by Matthew Piechalak, video by Alé Delado, photos by Zachary Barron Studios