ASU Graduates Largest Class of Native Students
Gila River Indian News
Graduates from across the state and country filled the seats at Arizona State University’s Grady Gammage Auditorium on May 11 to celebrate the academic accomplishments of everyone at the 2022 American Indian Convocation. This year, the Community had eight out of 553 total graduates, which is the largest graduating class of American Indian students to date.
Graduates lined the first four rows of the auditorium donning maroon gowns, colored cords, commemorative sashes and decorated caps, all waiting to cross the stage and receive their diploma and one-of-a-kind Pendleton stole.
“It’s a great day to be a Sun Devil, isn’t it?” said Dr. LuAnn Leonard, executive director for the Hopi Educational Endowment Fund. “During my tenure as a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, Dr. [Michael] Crow was mindful of the importance of ASU’s role in educating the future leaders of tribal nations. To this day, he and his staff strive to provide the highest quality of academic services to our students, and I am thankful for their efforts.”
She added, ”Many of us who received our degrees did so with pressures and challenges, but you, the classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022, proved to be special as little did you know that you would have to deal with a worldwide pandemic during your time here at ASU.”
This year’s convocation was the first in-person ceremony in two years due to the pandemic, so the classes of 2020 and 2021 also were invited to attend the ceremony.
Each GRIC student who walked across the stage proudly adorned their 2022 GRIC Graduation Stole, issued by the Tribal Education Department. The gold stoles featured maroon and water designs that complemented ASU’s maroon gowns.
Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis presented the Heard Museum’s Eagle Spirit Award for two outstanding postgraduate students.
On the same day as the convocation, the U.S. Department of Interior released its “Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report” detailing the tragic history of boarding schools. In his remarks, Gov. Lewis acknowledged the report and said, “It’s ironic that [report] was released. Yet here we are today, with the largest class of Native Americans tonight.”
Gov. Lewis continued, “Each one of you, by graduating, you’re all redeeming this sad, painful and damaging history of boarding schools, and you are the generations that are going to be redeeming that history that’s going to begin this important healing process. Remember that, and thank you.”
As the graduates begin a new path in their journey, they are reminded of what lies ahead. As Dr. Leonard shared, “Remember, for those that much have been given, much is expected.”