Students donning purple caps and gowns filed into the the typically orange-laden AT&T Park Friday during SF State’s 114th Commencement ceremony.
The ceremony was held at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants, for the first time in SF State history. More than 30,000 people were expected to attend the graduation, according to SF State’s website.
SF State President Leslie E. Wong greeted graduating students, family, friends and alumni to the ceremony following the National Anthem. Wong thanked the graduating students who served in the armed forces and faculty members before he highlighted the uniqueness of the graduating class.
“I am pleased to report that this graduating class is on of the largest, one of the most diverse and most certainly one of the most accomplished in the history of this great university,” Wong said.
[caption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”800″] SF State University President Leslie E. Wong speaks to more than 8,000 graduates at AT&T Park during at the college’s 2015 Commencement ceremony. (Brian Churchwell / Xpress)[/caption]
California Lt. Governor and former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom delivered the commencement address at the ceremony. Newsom joked about the answers he received when he crowdsourced to discover what students wanted to hear him talk about during his speech. He also encouraged students to take action in their communities.
“Society becomes how we behave,” Newsom said. “We are our behaviors, we are our dysfunctional systems, we are the things we struggle about and the things we celebrate. So my long-winded message to you is to take account. Life can either happen to you or for you. You got to step up, you got to step in. Don’t be a bystander.”
Honorary degrees were awarded to Academy Award-nominated actress Annette Bening; poet, activists and cofounder of City Lights publishing Lawrence Ferlinghetti; and to Peter Gabel, a legal professor, scholar and the editor-at-large of Tikkun, a Jewish magazine.
Two students from each of the six colleges, one undergraduate and one graduate student, were also recognized as hood recipients during the Commencement ceremony.
Eduardo Gonzalez, a International Relations and Political Science double major, was the undergraduate hood recipient for the College of Liberal Creative Arts and spoke during the ceremony as the representative for the 2015 undergraduate class.
Gonzalez said that as first-generation college student and the son of parents who immigrated into the U.S., he learned to pursue education from a young age.
“(My dad) took his children to work with him and exposed us to the grueling life of hard labor and low pay at a young age,” Gonzalez said. “He told us that in the U.S., a formal education would open doors that had never been available to him in his country.”
Jonathan Brumfield, who received his master’s degree in Ethnic Studies, was the speaker for graduate students and was selected as the hood recipient for the College of Ethnic Studies. Brumfield thanked the teachers who helped shape his education during his speech.
“I give thanks for the visions of our ancestors who have paved the way for us to sit here today and be able to achieve a higher education,” Brumfield said. “We are not higher than anyone else in our environments, we are only more helpful.”
After turning their tassels and coming onto the field to receive their diplomas, graduates and their families were treated to a firework display that illuminated over McCovey Cove.