ASU Breaks Record for American Indian Graduates
June 2, 2023
Gila River Indian News
Arizona State University’s Grady Gammage Auditorium in Tempe was filled with family, friends, faculty, tribal leaders from across the state, and the graduating class of 2023 for the 33rd Annual American Indian Convocation Friday, May 12. Governor Stephen Roe Lewis was in attendance for the convocation to share the special occasion with several GRIC graduating students and all the new ASU Alumni.
At this year’s convocation, 170 American Indian graduates were honored during the ceremony celebrating their accomplishments. ASU has set a new record by graduating 762 students in Spring 2023. In addition, ASU has consistently seen an increase in enrollment from tribal communities, leading to larger graduating classes.
“Today feels like I’m finally alive and I can go on with my life and be who I’ve always wanted to be,” said Jasmine Reece, District 7. Reece attended the convocation ceremony where she received her Master of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership.
Alongside Reece was Samantha Molina, District 5, that also completed a Master of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership. She was elated to complete her schooling and reach this point. “I feel very thankful and blessed to be here after all the hard work to get here it’s like a big weight off my shoulders.
Reece and Molina were not only excited to graduate but also looked forward to potentially moving to a higher position within their respective places of work.
Tribal leaders, ASU faculty and staff, and tribal flags representing the graduating students adorned the stage at the commencement. The ceremony emcee, Patty Talahongva of the Hopi Tribe, encouraged the graduates to let the stage reflect where they come from and acknowledge those who have supported their educational journey.
Graduating senior Lourdes Pereira, Tohono O’odham Nation, provided an address at the convocation. Pereira highlighted the many achievements she accomplished at ASU and shared the challenges she faced as an undergrad. While she felt like quiting at one point, she found the strength to persevere through her mother’s advice to “Never give up.”
“Know that you must be willing to fail, winners aren’t the people that don’t fail, but the people that don’t give up,” said Pereira. “As you set out in the real world, when you feel life is too hard to carry on, remember how far you’ve come and that we have the blood, breath, and heart of all those that came before us, who never gave up.”